Israelites Came To Ancient Japan
Many of the traditional ceremonies in Japan seem to indicate that the Lost Tribes of Israel came to ancient Japan
In Nagano prefecture, Japan, there is a large Shinto shrine named "Suwa-Taisha" (Shinto is the national traditional religion peculiar to Japan.)
At Suwa-Taisha, the traditional festival called "Ontohsai" is held on April 15 every year (When the Japanese used the lunar calendar it was March-April). This festival illustrates the story of Isaac in chapter 22 of Genesis in the Bible - when Abraham was about to sacrifice his own son, Isaac. The "Ontohsai" festival, held since ancient days, is judged to be the most important festival of "Suwa-Taisha."
The "Suwa-Taisha" shrine
At the back of the shrine "Suwa-Taisha," there is a mountain called Mt. Moriya ("Moriya-san" in Japanese). The people from the Suwa area call the god of Mt. Moriya "Moriya no kami," which means, the "god of Moriya." This shrine is built to worship the "god of Moriya."
At the festival, a boy is tied up by a rope to a wooden pillar, and placed on a bamboo carpet. A Shinto priest comes to him preparing a knife, and he cuts a part of the top of the wooden pillar, but then a messenger (another priest) comes there, and the boy is released. This is reminiscent of the Biblical story in which Isaac was released after an angel came to Abraham.
The knife and sword used in the "Ontohsai" festival
At this festival, animal sacrifices are also offered. 75 deer are sacrificed, but among them it is believed that there is a deer with its ear split. The deer is considered to be the one God prepared. It could have had some connection with the ram that God prepared and was sacrificed after Isaac was released. Since the ram was caught in the thicket by the horns, the ear might have been split.
In ancient time of Japan there were no sheep and it might be the reason why they used deer (deer is Kosher). Even in historic times, people thought that this custom of deer sacrifice was strange, because animal sacrifice is not a Shinto tradition.
My friend went to Israel and saw a Passover festival on Mt. Gerizim in Samaria. He asked a Samaritan priest how many rams were offered. The priest answered that they used to offer 75. This may have a connection with the 75 deer which were offered at Suwa-Taisha shrine in Japan.
Abraham and Isaac
People call this festival "the festival for Misakuchi-god". "Misakuchi" might be "mi-isaku-chi." "Mi" means "great," "isaku" is most likely Isaac (the Hebrew word "Yitzhak"), and "chi" is something for the end of the word. It seems that the people of Suwa made Isaac a god, probably by the influence of idol worshipers.
Today, this custom of the boy about to be sacrificed and then released, is no longer practiced, but we can still see the custom of the wooden pillar called "oniye-basira," which means, "sacrifice-pillar."
Currently, people use stuffed animals instead of performing a real animal sacrifice. Tying a boy along with animal sacrifice was regarded as savage by people of the Meiji-era (about 100 years ago), and those customs were discontinued. However, the festival itself still remains.
The custom of the boy had been maintained until the beginning of Meiji era. Masumi Sugae, who was a Japanese scholar and a travel writer in the Edo era (about 200 years ago), wrote a record of his travels and noted what he saw at Suwa. The record shows the details of "Ontohsai." It tells that the custom of the boy about to be sacrificed and his ultimate release, as well as animal sacrifices that existed those days. His records are kept at the museum near Suwa-Taisha.
The festival of "Ontohsai" has been maintained by the Moriya family ever since ancient times. The Moriya family think of "Moriya-no-kami" (god of Moriya) as their ancestor's god. They also consider "Mt. Moriya" as their holy place. The name, "Moriya," could have come from "Moriah" (the Hebrew word "Moriyyah") of Genesis 22:2, that is today's Temple Mount of Jerusalem. Among Jews, God of Moriah means the one true God whom the Bible teaches.
The Moriya family have been hosting the festival for 78 generations. And the curator of the museum said to me that the faith in the god of Moriya had existed among the people since the time of B.C.E.
Apparently, no other country but Japan has a festival illustrating the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac. This tradition appears to provide strong evidence that the ancient Israelites came to ancient Japan.
Japanese Religious Priests "Yamabushi" Put A Black Box on their Foreheads Just As Jews Put A Phylactery on their Foreheads.
"Yamabushi" is a religious man in training unique to Japan. Today, they are thought to belong to Japanese Buddhism. However, Buddhism in China, Korea and India have no such custom. The custom of "yamabushi" existed in Japan before Buddhism was imported into Japan in the seventh century.
On the forehead of "Yamabushi," he puts a black small box called a "tokin", which is tied to his head with a black cord. He greatly resembles a Jew putting on a phylactery (black box) on his forehead with a black cord. The size of this black box "tokin" is almost the same as the Jewish phylactery, but its shape is round and flower-like.
Israel and Japan are the only two countries that in the world I know of that use of the black forehead box for religious purpose.
Furthermore, the "yamabushi" use a big seashell as a horn. This is very similar to Jews blowing a shofar or ram's horn. The way it is blown and the sounds of the "yamabushi's" horn are very similar to those of a shofar. Because there are no sheep in Japan, the "yamabushi" had to use seashell horns instead of rams' horns.
"Yamabushis" are people who regard mountains as their holy places for religious training. The Israelites also regarded mountains as their holy places. The Ten Commandments of the Torah were given on Mt. Sinai. Jerusalem is a city on a mountain.
In Japan, there is the legend of "Tengu" who lives on a mountain and has the figure of a "yamabushi". He has a pronounced nose and supernatural capabilities. A "ninja", who was an agent or spy in the old days, while working for his lord, goes to "Tengu" at the mountain to get from him supernatural abilities. "Tengu" gives him a "tora-no-maki" (a scroll of the "torah") after giving him additional powers. This "scroll of the tora" is regarded as a very important book which is helpful for any crisis. Japanese use this word sometimes in their current lives.
There is no knowledge that a real scroll of a Jewish Torah was ever found in a Japanese historical site. However, it appears this "scroll of the tora" is a derivation of the Jewish Torah.
Japanese "Omikoshi" Resembles the Ark of the Covenant.
In the Torah (Divrei Hayamim I ch. 15), it is written that David brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord into Jerusalem.
"David and the elders of Israel and the commanders of units of a thousand went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the L-rd from the house of Obed-Edom, with rejoicing. ...Now David was clothed in a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and as were the singers, and Kenaniah, who was in charge of the singing of the choirs. David also wore a linen ephod. So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the L-rd with shouts, with the sounding of rams' horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps." (15:25-28)
When I read these passages, I think; "How well does this look like the scene of Japanese people carrying our 'omikoshi' during festivals? The shape of the Japanese 'Omikoshi' appears similar to the ark of the covenant. Japanese sing and dance in front of it with shouts, and to the sounds of musical instruments. These are quite similar to the customs of ancient Israel."
Japanese carry the "omikoshi" on their shoulders with poles - usually two poles. So did the ancient Israelites:
"The Levites carried the ark of God with poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the L-rd." (Divrei Hayamim I 15:15) The Israeli ark of the covenant had two poles (Exodus 25:10-15).
Some restored models of the ark as it was imagined to be have used two poles on the upper parts of the ark. But the Bible says those poles were to be fastened to the ark by the four rings "on its four feet" (Exodus 25:12). Hence, the poles must have been attached on the bottom of the ark. This is similar to the Japanese "omikoshi."
The Israeli ark had two statues of gold kruvim on its top. Kruvim are a type of angel, heavenly being having wings like birds. Japanese "omikoshi" also have on its top the gold bird called "Ho-oh" which is an imaginary bird and a mysterious heavenly being.
The entire Israeli ark was overlaid with gold. Japanese "omikoshi" are also overlaid partly and sometimes entirely with gold. The size of an "omikoshi" is almost the same as the Israeli ark. Japanese "omikoshi" could be a remnant of the ark of ancient Israel.
Many Things Concerning the Ark Resemble Japanese Customs.
King David and people of Israel sang and danced to the sounds of musical instruments in front of the ark. We Japanese sing and dance to the sounds of musical instruments in front of "omikoshi" as well.
Several years ago, I saw an American-made movie titled "King David" which was a faithful story of the life of King David. In the movie, David was seen dancing in front of the ark while it was being carried into Jerusalem. I thought: "If the scenery of Jerusalem were replaced by Japanese scenery, this scene would be just the same as what can be observed in Japanese festivals." The atmosphere of the music also resembles the Japanese style. David's dancing appears similar to Japanese traditional dancing.
At the Shinto shrine festival of "Gion-jinja" in Kyoto, men carry "omikoshi," then enter a river, and cross it. I can't help but think this originates from the memory of the Ancient Israelites carrying the ark as they crossed the Jordan river after their exodus from Egypt.
In a Japanese island of the Inland Sea of Seto, the men selected as the carriers of the "omikoshi" stay together at a house for one week before they would carry the "omikoshi." This is to prevent profaning themselves. Furthermore on the day before they carry "omikoshi," the men bathe in seawater to sanctify themselves. This is similar to an ancient Israelite custom:
"So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord G-d of Israel." (Divrei Hayamim I 15:14)
The Bible says that after the ark entered Jerusalem and the march was finished, "David distributed to everyone of Israel, both man and woman, to everyone a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins" (Divrei Hayamim I 16:3). This is similar to a Japanese custom. Sweets are distributed to everyone after a Japanese festival. It was a delight during my childhood.
The Robe of Japanese Priests Resembles the Robe of Israeli Priests.
The Bible says that when David brought up the ark into Jerusalem, "David was clothed in a robe of fine linen" (Divrei Hayamim I 15:27). The same was true for the priests and choirs. In the Japanese Bible, this verse is translated into "robe of white linen."
In ancient Israel, although the high priest wore a colorful robe, ordinary priests wore simple white linen. Priests wore white clothes at holy events. Japanese priests also wear white robes at holy events.
In Ise-jingu, one of the oldest Japanese shrines, all of the priests wear white robes. And in many Japanese Shinto shrines, especially traditional ones, the people wear white robes when they carry the "omikoshi" just like the Israelites did.
Buddhist priests wear luxurious colorful robes. However, in the Japanese Shinto religion, white is regarded as the holiest color.
The Emperor of Japan, just after he finishes the ceremony of his accession to the throne, appears alone in front of the Shinto god. When he arrives there, he wears a pure white robe covering his entire body except that his feet are naked. This is similar to the action of Moses and Joshua who removed their sandals in front of God to be in bare feet (Shmos 3:5, Yehoshua 5:15).
Marvin Tokayer, a rabbi who lived in Japan for 10 years, wrote in his book:
"The linen robes which Japanese Shinto priests wear have the same figure as the white linen robes of the ancient priests of Israel. "
Japanese Shinto priest in white robe with fringes
The Japanese Shinto priest robe has cords of 20-30 centimeters long (about 10 inches) hung from the corners of the robe. These fringes are similar to those of the ancient Israelites. Devorim 22:12 says:
"make them fringes in the... corners of their garments throughout their generations."
Fringes (tassels) were a token that a person was an Israelite.
Imagined pictures of ancient Israeli clothing sometimes do not have fringes. But their robes actually had fringes. The Jewish Tallit (prayer shawl), which the Jews put on when they pray, has fringes in the corners according to tradition.
Japanese Shinto priests wear on their robe a rectangle of cloth from their shoulders to thighs. This is the same as the ephod worn by David:
"David also wore a linen ephod." (Divrei Hayamim I 15:27)
Although the ephod of the high priest was colorful with jewels, the ordinary priests under him wore the ephods of simple white linen cloth (Shmuel I 22:18). Rabbi Tokayer states that the rectangle of cloth on the robe of Japanese Shinto priest looks very similar to the ephod of the Kohen, the Jewish priest.
The Japanese Shinto priest puts a cap on his head just like Israeli priest did (Shmos 29:40). The Japanese priest also puts a sash on his waist. So did the Israeli priest. The clothing of Japanese Shinto priests appears to be similar to the clothing used by ancient Israelites.
Waving the Sheaf of Harvest Is Also the Custom of Japan.
The Jews wave a sheaf of their first fruits of grain seven weeks before Shavuot (Pentecost, Vayikra 23:10-11), They also wave a sheaf of plants at Sukkot (the Feast of Booths, Vayikra 23:40). This has been a tradition since the time of Moses. Ancient Israeli priests also waved a plant branch when he sanctifies someone. David said, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean" [Tehilim 51:7(9)]. This is also a traditional Japanese custom.
When a Japanese priest sanctifies someone or something, he waves a tree branch. Or he waves a "harainusa," which is made of a stick and white papers and looks like a plant. Today's "harainusa" is simplified and made of white papers that are folded in a zig-zag pattern like small lightning bolts, but in old days it was a plant branch or cereals.
A Japanese woman acquaintance of mine used to think of this "harainusa" as merely a pagan custom. But she later went to the U.S.A. and had an opportunity to attend a Sukkot ceremony. When she saw the Jewish waving of the sheaf of the harvest, she shouted in her heart, "Oh, this is the same as a Japanese priest does! Here lies the home for the Japanese."
The Structure of the Japanese Shinto Shrine is Similar to G-d's Tabernacle of Ancient Israel.
The inside of G-d's tabernacle in ancient Israel was divided into two parts. The first was the Holy Place, and the second was the Holy of Holies. The Japanese Shinto shrine is also divided into two parts.
The functions performed in the Japanese shrine are similar to those of the Israeli tabernacle. Japanese pray in front of its Holy Place. They cannot enter inside. Only Shinto priests and special ones can enter. Shinto priest enters the Holy of Holies of the Japanese shrine only at special times. This is similar to the Israeli tabernacle.
The Japanese Holy of Holies is located usually in far west or far north of the shrine. The Israeli Holy of Holies was located in far west of the temple. Shinto's Holy of Holies is also located on a higher level than the Holy Place, and between them are steps. Scholars state that, in the Israeli temple built by Solomon, the Holy of Holies was on an elevated level as well, and between them there were steps of about 2.7 meters (9 feet) in width.
In front of a Japanese shrine, there are two statues of lions known as "komainu" that sit on both sides of the approach. They are not idols but guards for the shrine. This was also a custom of ancient Israel. In G-d's temple in Israel and in the palace of Solomon, there were statues or relieves of lions (Melachim I 7:36, 10:19).
In the early history of Japan, there were absolutely no lions. But the statues of lions have been placed in Japanese shrines since ancient times. It has been proven by scholars that statues of lions located in front of Japanese shrines originated from the Middle East.
Located near the entrance of a Japanese shrine is a "temizuya" - a place for worshipers to wash their hands and mouth. They used to wash their feet, too, in old days. This is a similar custom as is found in Jewish synagogues. The ancient tabernacle and temple of Israel also had a laver for washing hands and feet near the entrances.
In front of a Japanese shrine, there is a gate called the "torii." The type gate does not exist in China or in Korea, it is peculiar to Japan. The "torii" gate consists of two vertical pillars and a bar connecting the upper parts. But the oldest form consists of only two vertical pillars and a rope connecting the upper parts. When a Shinto priest bows to the gate, he bows to the two pillars separately. It is assumed that the "torii" gate was originally constructed of only two pillars.
In the Israeli temple, there were two pillars used as a gate (Melachim I 7:21). And in Aramaic language which ancient Israelites used, the word for gate was "taraa." This word might have changed slightly and become the Japanese "torii".
Some "toriis," especially of old shrines, are painted red. I can't help but think this is a picture of the two door posts and the lintel on which the blood of the lamb was put the night before the exodus from Egypt.
In the Japanese Shinto religion, there is a custom to surround a holy place with a rope called the "shimenawa," which has slips of white papers inserted along the bottom edge of the rope. The "shimenawa" rope is set as the boundary. The Bible says that when Moses was given God's Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai, he "set bounds" (Shmos 19:12) around it for the Israelites not to approach. Although the nature of these "bounds" is not known, ropes might have been used. The Japanese "shimenawa" rope might then be a custom that originates from the time of Moses. The zig-zag pattern of white papers inserted along the rope reminds me of the thunders at Mt. Sinai.
The major difference between a Japanese Shinto shrine and the ancient Israeli temple is that the shrine does not have the burning altar for animal sacrifices. I used to wonder why Shinto religion does not have the custom of animal sacrifices if Shinto originated from the religion of ancient Israel.
But then I found the answer in Devarim, chapter 12. Moses commanded the people not to offer any animal sacrifices at any other locations except at specific places in Canaan (12:10-14). Hence, if the Israelites came to ancient Japan, they would not be permitted to offer animal sacrifices.
Many Japanese Customs Resemble Those of Ancient Israel.
When Japanese people pray in front of the Holy Place of a Shinto shrine, they firstly ring the golden bell which is hung at the center of the entrance. This was also the custom of the ancient Israel. The high priest Aaron put "bells of gold" on the hem of his robe. This was so that its sound might be heard and he might not die when ministered there (Shmos 28:33-35).
Japanese people clap their hands two times when they pray there. This was, in ancient Israel, the custom to mean, "I keep promises." In the Scriptures, you can find the word which is translated into "pledge." The original meaning of this word in Hebrew is, "clap his hand" (Yechezkel 17:18, Shir Hashirim 6:1). It seems that the ancient Israelites clapped their hands when they pledged or did something important.
Japanese people bow in front of the shrine before and after clapping their hands and praying. They also perform a bow as a polite greeting when they meet each other. To bow was also the custom of the ancient Israel. Jacob bowed when he was approaching Esau (Breishis 33:3).
Ordinarily, contemporary Jews do not bow. However, they bow when reciting prayers. Modern Ethiopians have the custom of bowing, probably because of the ancient Jews who emigrated to Ethiopia in ancient days. The Ethiopian bow is similar to the Japanese bow.
We Japanese have the custom to use salt for sanctification. People sometimes sow salt after an offensive person leaves. When I was watching a TV drama from the times of the Samurai, a woman threw salt on the place where a man she hated left. This custom is the same as that of the ancient Israelites. After Abimelech captured an enemy city, "he sowed it with salt" (Shoftim 9:45). We Japanese quickly interpret this to mean to cleanse and sanctify the city.
I hear that when Jews move to a new house they sow it with salt to sanctify it and cleanse it. This is true also in Japan. In Japanese-style restaurants, they usually place salt near the entrance. Jews use salt for Kosher meat. All Kosher meat is purified with salt and all meals start with bread and salt.
Japanese people place salt at the entrance of a funeral home. After coming back from a funeral, one has to sprinkle salt on oneself before entering his/her house. It is believed in Shinto that anyone who went to a funeral or touched a dead body had become unclean. Again, this is the same concept as was observed by the ancient Israelites.
Japanese "sumo" wrestlers sow the sumo ring with salt before they fight. European or American people wonder why they sow salt. But Rabbi Tokayer wrote that Jews quickly understand its meaning.
Japanese people offer salt every time they perform a religious offering, This is the same custom used by the Israelites:
"With all your offerings you shall offer salt." (Vayikra 2:13)
Japanese people in old times had the custom of putting some salt into their baby's first bath. The ancient Israelites washed a newborn baby with water after rubbing the baby softly with salt (Yechezkel 16:4). Sanctification and cleansing with salt and/or water is a common custom among both the Japanese and the ancient Israelites.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the words "clean" and "unclean" often appear. Europeans and Americans are not familiar with this concept, but the Japanese understand it. A central concept of Shinto is to value cleanness and to avoid uncleanness. This concept probably came from ancient Israel.
Similar to Judaism, in Japanese Shinto Religion, There Are No Idols
Buddhist temples have idols which are carved in the shape of Buddha and other gods. However in Japanese Shinto shrines, there are no idols.
In the center of the Holy of Holies of a Shinto shrine, there is a mirror, sword, or pendant. Nevertheless, Shinto believers do not regard these items as their gods. In Shinto, gods are thought to be invisible. The mirror, sword, and pendant are not idols but merely objects to show that it is a holy place where invisible gods come down.
In the ark of the covenant of ancient Israel, there were stone tablets of G-d's Ten Commandments, a jar of manna and the rod of Aaron. These were not idols, but objects to show that it was the holy place where the invisible G-d comes down. The same thing can be said concerning the objects in Japanese shrines.
Ancient Japanese Possibly Had a Belief in Yah-weh
A major difference between the Shinto religion and Judaism is the Shinto believe many gods and the Judaic believe in one true God.
However, unlike modern Judaism, the ancient religion of Israel, especially of the Ten Northern Tribes, inclined to idol worship and polytheistic belief (belief in many gods). They not only believed in G-d Yah-weh, they also believed in other gods such as Baal, Asytaroth, Molech. Shinto's polytheistic belief system appears to have been derived from the polytheistic inclination of ancient Northern Israel. Shinto scholars state that the Shinto god, "Susanoh," resembles Baal in several aspects, and the Shinto female god, "Amaterasu," resembles Asytaroth.
Until 40 decades ago, at Mt. Inomure in Ooita prefecture, Japan, people had a ceremony to beg for rainfall. They put wood together in the shape of a Star of David for making the foundation. On it, they constructed a tower made of tree branches, and on its top, they put a bamboo pole tangled with a slough of snake. They burned the tower and prayed for rainfall. This is reminiscent of the story of the ancient Israelites burning incense to the bronze serpent (made by Moses) on the pole until the reign of the King Hezekiah (Melachim II 18:4).
Although Shinto is a polytheistic religion, I think there is the possibility that ancient Shinto had once believed in Yahweh as well.
The first born among the Shinto gods is called "Amenominakanushi-no-kami." This god is said to have appeared first, live in the midst of the universe, had no shape, did not die, was the invisible master of the universe, and was the absolute god. He resembles the Biblical God as the Master of the Universe.
Archaeologists state that the religions of Babylon and Egypt had originally believed in one god called "the god of sky," who seemed to have a connection to the Biblical "God of heaven." Later, their religions degraded to the polytheism. I think that we can safely say the same thing happened to the Shinto religion. I suppose that the ancient Shinto religion had the belief in G-d Yahweh, but later degenerated into polytheism. I believe that the Japanese people should come back to believe in one true God whom the Bible teaches.
A friend of mine, Mr. Tsujii, told me the following incident. A friend of Mr. Tsujii's, who was a passionate Shinto believer, came to him. The Shinto believer had read the Torah and said excitingly:
"I read the Torah. I was very surprised to learn about the religious ceremonies of ancient Israel. They are the same as Shinto's. The festivals, the Temple, the value of cleanness, all of those are the same as Shinto's!"
Then, Mr. Tsujii said to him:
"Yes, that is what I have also noticed. If you have discovered it, why don't you believe in God whom the Bible teaches? I believe that is the way to establish and recover the true Shinto religion in which you believe."
Hearing this, the Shinto believer was too surprised to say anything else for a while. Mr. Tsujii's words echo my own belief. I pray that all Japanese people may return to the belief in God of the Bible, because He is also the Father of the Japanese nation.
Festivals of Japan Resemble Those of Ancient Israel
Currently the Japanese celebrate the new year on January 1st, but historically the lunar calendar was used, when January 15th was the official date for the new year's celebration. It is a Japanese custom during the celebration to eat "mochi" (rice cakes) throughout the seven days. This is similar to Judaism, for the Bible states:
"And on the fifteenth day of the same month (first month) is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread." (Vayikra 23:6)
The recipe for "unleavened bread" is the same for Japanese "mochi," because if you use rice as the ingredient instead of wheat flour, it would become Japanese "mochi." The Hebrew word for unleavened bread" is "matzah." Most likely it is not accidental that these two words sound alike.
Furthermore, the Japanese people eat porridge with seven kinds of bitter herbs during celebration. In historical times people ate the herbs on January 15th. The ancient Israelites also ate "with bitter herbs" on the 15th of the first month (Shmos 12:8).
In Japan, the "Gion" festivals take place at many locations during the summer. The most important is the one held at the "Yasaka-jinja" Shinto shrine in Kyoto. The festival in Kyoto continues throughout July each year. However, the most important part of the festival is held from July 17th to 25th (We Japanese call it "the seventh month"). July 1st and 10th are also important. This has been a tradition since ancient times. But the 17th of the seventh month is the day that Noah's ark drifted to Ararat:
"Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat." (Breishis 8:4)
It is likely that the ancient Israelites had a thanksgiving feast on this day. However after Moses, it was replaced by the Feast of Booths (harvest festival), which is held on the 1st, 10th day of the seventh month, and during 8 days from the 15th of the seventh month (Bamidbar 29:1, 7, 12, 35).
The "Gion" festival in Kyoto started with the wish that no pestilence would occur among people. This is similar to what King Solomon stated, in the wish that no pestilence would occur in the country. The Israeli feast continued for 8 days (including the last meeting day) from the 15th of the seventh month (Divrei Hayamim II 7:8-10).
Over 120 years ago, a business man from Scotland, N. Mcleod, came to Japan to investigate the customs. He wrote a book entitled "Epitome of Japanese Ancient History." In the book, he wrote that the "Gion" festival in Kyoto greatly resembled Jewish festivals.
Rabbi Tokayer made a similar comment. He said that the name "Gion" reminds him of "Zion" which is another name for Jerusalem. In fact, Kyoto used to be called "Heian-kyo," which means "city of peace." Jerusalem in Hebrew also means "city of peace". "Heian-kyo" might be Japanese for "Jerusalem."
At the "Gion" festival in Kyoto, the people start the festival with a shout of "en-yara-yah." Japanese do not understand the meaning of this word. But, Eiji Kawamorita, a Japanese scholar who mastered Hebrew, wrote in his book that the word seemed to be a Hebrew expression "eni ahalel yah" which means "I praise Yah-weh (the Lord)."
Similarity Between the Biblical Genealogy and Japanese Mythology
There is a remarkable similarity between the Biblical article and Japanese mythology. A Japanese scholar points out that the stories around Ninigi in the Japanese mythology greatly resemble the stories around Jacob in the Bible.
In the Japanese mythology, the Imperial family of Japan and the nation of Yamato (the Japanese) are descendants of Ninigi, who came from heaven. Ninigi is the anscestor of the tribe of Yamato, or Japanese nation. While Jacob is the anscestor of the Israelites.
In the Japanese mythology, it was not Ninigi who was to come down from heaven, but the other. But when the other was preparing, Ninigi was born and in a result, instead of him, Ninigi came down from heaven and became the anscestor of the Japanese nation. In the same way, according to the Bible, it was Esau, Jacob's elder brother, who was to become G-d's nation but in a result, instead of Esau, G-d's blessing for the nation was given to Jacob, and Jacob became the anscestor of the Israelites.
And in the Japanese mythology, after Ninigi came from heaven, he fell in love with a beautiful woman named Konohana-sakuya-hime and tried to marry her. But her father asked him to marry not only her but also her elder sister. However the elder sister was ugly and Ninigi gave her back to her father. In the same way, according to the Bible, Jacob fell in love with beautiful Rachal and tried to marry her (Breishis chapter 29). But her father says to Jacob that he cannot give the younger sister before the elder, so he asked Jacob to marry the elder sister (Leah) also. However the elder sister was not so beautiful, Jacob disliked her. Thus, there is a parallelism between Ninigi and Jacob.
And in the Japanese mythology, Ninigi and his wife Konohana-sakuya-hime bear a child named Yamasachi-hiko. But Yamasachi-hiko is bullied by his elder brother and has to go to the country of a sea god. There Yamasachi-hiko gets a mystic power and troubles the elder brother by giving him famine, but later forgives his sin. In the same way, according to the Bible, Jacob and his wife Rachal bear a child named Joseph. But Joseph is bullied by his elder brothers and had to go to Egypt. There Joseph became the prime minister of Egypt and gets power, and when the elder brothers came to Egypt because of famine, Joseph helped them and forgives their sin. Thus, there is a parallelism between Yamasachi-hiko and Joseph.
Similarity between the biblical genealogy and Japanese mythology
And in the Japanese mythology, Yamasachi-hiko married a daughter of the sea god, and bore a child named Ugaya-fukiaezu. Ugaya-fukiaezu had 4 sons. But his second and third sons were gone to other places. The forth son is emperor Jinmu who conquers the land of Yamato. On this line is the Imperial House of Japan.
While, what is it in the Bible? Joseph married a daughter of a priest in Egypt, and bore Manasseh and Ephraim. Ephraim resembles Ugaya-fukiaezu in the sense that Ephraim had 4 sons, but his second and third sons were killed and died early (Divrei Hayamim II 7:20-27), and a descendant of the forth son was Joshua who conquered the land of Canaan (the land of Israel). On the line of Ephraim is the Royal House of the Ten Tribes of Israel.
Thus we find a remarkable similarity between the biblical genealogy and Japanese mythology - between Ninigi and Jacob, Yamasachi-hiko and Joseph, and the Imperial family of Japan and the tribe of Ephraim.
Furthermore, in the Japanese mythology, the heaven is called Hara of Takama (Takama-ga-hara or Takama-no-hara). Ninigi came from there and founded the Japanese nation. Concerning this Hara of Takama, Zen'ichirou Oyabe, a Japanase researcher, thought that this is the city Haran in the region of Togarmah where Jacob and his anscestors once lived; Jacob lived in Haran of Togarmah for a while, then came to Canaan and founded the Israeli nation.
Jacob once saw in a dream the angels of God ascending and descending between the heaven and the earth (breishis 28:12), when Jacob was given a promise of God that his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan. This was different from Ninigi's descending from heaven, but resembles it in image.
Thus, except for details, the outline of the Japanese mythology greatly resembles the records of the Bible. It is possible to think that the myths of Kojiki and Nihon-shoki, the Japanese chronicles written in the 8th century, were originally based on Biblical stories but later added with various pagan elements. Even it might be possible to think that the Japanese mythology was originally a kind of genealogy which showed that the Japanese are descendants of Jacob, Joseph, and Ephraim.
Impurity During Menstruation and Bearing Child
The concept of uncleanness during menstruation and bearing child have existed in Japan since ancient times.
It has been a custom in Japan since old days that woman during menstruation should not attend holy events at shrine. She could not have sex with her husband and had to shut herself up in a shed (called Gekkei-goya in Japanese), which is built for collaboration use in village, during her menstruation and several days or about 7 days after the menstruation. This custom had been widely seen in Japan until Meiji era (about 100 years ago). After the period of shutting herself up ends, she had to clean herself by natural water as river, spring, or sea. It there is no natural water, it can be done in bathtub.
This resembles ancient Israeli custom very much. In ancient Israel, woman during menstruation could not attend holy events at the temple, had to be apart from her husband, and it was custom to shut herself up in a shed during her menstruation and 7 days after the menstruation (Vayikra 15:19, 28). This shutting herself up was said "to continue in the blood of her purification", and this was for purification and to make impurity apart from the house or the village.
This remains true even today. There are no marital relations, for the days of menstruation and an additional 7 days. Then the woman goes to the Mikveh, ritual bath. The water of the Mikveh must be natural water. There are cases of gathering rainwater and putting it to the Mikveh bathtub. In case of not having enough natural water, water from faucet is added.
Modern people may feel irrational about this concept but women during menstruation or bearing child need rest physically and mentally. Woman herself says that she feels impure in her blood in the period. "To continue in the blood of her purification" refers to this need of rest of her blood.
Not only concerning menstruation, but also the concept concerning bearing child in Japanese Shinto resembles the one of ancient Israel. A mother who bore a child is regarded unclean in a certain period. This concept is weak among the Japanese today, but was very common in old days. The old Shinto book, Engishiki (the 10th century C.E.), set 7 days as a period that she cannot participate holy events after she bore a child. This resembles an ancient custom of Israel, for the Bible says that when a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be "unclean 7 days". She shall then "continue in the blood of her purification 33 days". In the case that she bears a female child, then she shall be "unclean two weeks", and she shall "continue in the blood of her purification 66 days'" (Vayikra 12:2-5).
In Japan it had been widely seen until Meiji era that woman during pregnancy and after bearing child shut herself up in a shed (called Ubu-goya in Japanese) and lived there. The period was usually during the pregnancy and 30 days or so after she bore a child (The longest case was nearly 100 days). This resembles the custom of ancient Israel.
In ancient Israel, after this period of purification the mother could come to the temple with her child for the first time. Also in the custom of Japanese Shinto, after this period of purification the mother can come to the shrine with her baby. In modern Japan it is generally 32 days (or 31 days) after she bore the baby in case of a male, and 33 days in case of a female.
But when they come to the shrine, it is not the mother who carries the baby. It is a traditional custom that the baby should be carried not by the mother, but usually by the husband's mother (mother-in-law). This is a remarkable similarity of purity and impurity of the mother, after childbirth, with ancient Israeli custom.
A Possible Remnant of the Celebration of Circumcision
If the ancient Israelites came to Japan, do the Japanese have the custom of circumcision? Although I have heard a rumor that circumcision had been performed within the Imperial family of Japan, I have not been able to confirm yet whether or not there has been such a custom.
Currently, we cannot see the custom of circumcision among Japanese citizens, but a traditional Japanese custom exists known as "O-shichi-ya," which means 7th night. On the 7th night from the day a baby was born, the Japanese parents have a celebration to introduce the baby to relatives and friends and let them know the name of the baby.
The 7th night is, according to the Jewish way of counting days, the 8th day from the day the baby was born, because it is from the sunset that the next day starts in the Jewish calendar. This is reminiscent of the Jewish custom of circumcision on the 8th day. The Israelites gathered on the 8th day, that was usually 7th night from the day a boy was born. The parents introduced the baby to relatives and friends, circumcised him, introduced his name and rejoiced his birth together. During the 7 days he has no name, just like in the Japanese custom.
From the Study of Blood Types
Professor Tanemoto Furuhata, who is the authority on forensic medicine at Tokyo University wrote in his book that surprisingly, the blood types of the Japanese and the Jews are very similar. I also heard that a professor at Paris University had discovered that the "Y" chromosome of the Japanese is the same size as that of the Jews. I expect that further research will be done by many individuals.
To Shinto shrine Japanese people bring rice, Mochi (Japanese Matzah), Japanese liquor (Sake), cereals, vegetables, fruits, confectioneries, salt, water, fish (sea bream, etc.), and bird (pheasant meat, etc.) as their offerings to G-d and place them in the Holy Place of the Shrine. These must be the best ones, and the fire for cooking them must be a holy one lit by flint or heat of rubbing.
The offerings are displayed beautifully on a table of wood and the priest prays to G-d in front of it. After the ceremony the priest and participants are to eat the offerings. In that, modern Shintoists find significance that man eats with G-d or dines with G-d.
In the Holy Place of the Israeli tabernacle or temple, there was also a table of wood on which the bread made of cereals of the land, liquor (wine), and incense were offered (Shmos 25:29-30). These offerings to G-d had to be the best ones. The priest prayed to G-d and after the ceremony the offerings, which had been offered to G-d, were eaten by the priest and his family (Devorim 18:11). And in the Bible there is an article that Moses and the leaders of Israel "ate and drank" in front of G-d on Mt. Sinai (Shmos 24:11).
The Bible does not mention the concept of "dining with G-d" though, later, Jews in Talmudic times find significance of dining with G-d.
With a few exceptions, meat of four legged animals is generally not offered in Shinto religion. The most common offerings are firstfruits, salt, fish as bonito, Mochi (Japanese Matzah), rice, liquor (Sake), seaweeds, etc. Usually most of them are Kosher, or permitted foods in the Jewish diatary laws. But in modern Shinto, shellfish is sometimes offerred (Abalone is offered at Ise grand shrine). This is non-Kosher and the Jews not only never eat it, but also never offer to G-d. How was it in the start of Japanese Shinto?
In the Holy Place of the Israeli tabernacle or temple, there were also lamps which were never extinguished (Shmos 27:20-21), since they were holy fire. There is also an eternal light burning in every synagogue to this very day. In the same way, in the Holy Place of Japanese shrine, there is holy fire as lamps lit by divine means. Placing fire as lamps and the table with offerings on it in the Holy Place of the Shinto shrine resemble the Holy Place of ancient Israeli tabernacle. Thus the functions of the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies of the Japanese shrine are very similar to the ones of ancient Israel.
It is noteworthy that the liquor is indispensable for both Israeli and Japanese shrines. Like the liquor was offered in the Israeli temple, the liquor is offered in the Japanese shrine. The Bible says that the drink offering shall be of "wine, one-fourth of a hin" (Leviticus 23:13). "A hin" is about 6 liters, and I hear that its one-fourth is about the quantity of the liquor which is offered in grand shrines of Shinto.
The Land of Far End
There is a book called the Forth Book of Ezra, which was written in the end of the first century C.E.. Although this is not the Bible but just one of the ancient Hebrew documents, an interesting thing is written:
"They are the Ten Tribes which were off into exile in the time of King Hosea, whom Shalmaneser king of Assyria took prisoner. He deported them beyond the River and they were taken away into a strange country. But then they resolved to leave the country populated by Gentiles and go to a distant land never yet inhabited by man, and there at last to be obedient to their laws, which in their own country they had failed to keep. As they passed through the narrow passages of the Euphrates, the Most High performed miracles for them, stopping up the channels of the river until they had crossed over. Their journey through that region, which is called ARZARETH, was long, and took a year and a half. They have lived there ever since, until this final age. Now they are on their way back, and once more the Most High will stop the channels of the river to let them cross." (13:39-47)
This article was mentioned in the form of a vision and we cannot immediately think that this is a historical fact. But it is possible to think that there was some fact which became the background for this article. There might be the news or oral tradition that the Ten Tribe of Israel started their journey to the east and settled to a land of a year and a half distance away.
Where is ARZARETH which the Ten Tribes are said to have gone to? We cannot find the same name in the world by looking at the map.
Dr. Schiller Szinessy suggests that this is nothing else but the Hebrew words "eretz ahereth" (ARZ AHRTh) which means the other land. Or, if we interpret this as the Hebrew words "eretz aherith" (ARZ AHRITh), they mean the end of land, or most far away land. Not a few people thought that Japan might be the land.
Using Water and Salt for Sanctification
In Japanese Shinto they have a custom to use water or salt for sanctification. Most of the Japanese shrines are built near clean river, pond, lake, or the sea. This is to do sanctification there. In Shinto, water is to purify man. In ancient Israel they had this custom, for the Bible says that before priest serves at holy events or at the temple, he has to "wash his clothes" and "bathe in water" (Numbers 19:7).
So, it was also an ideal in ancient Israel that they have clean water near a worship place. Japanese Shinto priests also wash their clothes and bathe in water before they serve at the shrine. Buddhist priests generally do not have this custom.
In the Shinto religion they also use salt for purification. Japanese Sumo wreslers sow the Sumo ring with salt several times before they fight. The Western people wonder why they sow salt, but the Jews get the meaning immediately that it is to purify the ring. In Japan, salt is used to purify the holy place of shrine, or to purify Omikoshi.
And when you go to a Japanese-style restaurant, you will sometimes find some salt put near the entrance. The Western people wonder why, but the Jews get the meaning immediately that this is for purification. Even today, the Jews have a tradition of welcoming a new neighbor or distinguished guest with salt. If a world leader were to visit Jerusalem, the chief rabbi would welcome him at the entrance to the city with Hallah (Jewish bread) and salt.
Jews start each meal by salting bread, this makes every meal table an altar. Meat is "Koshered" by putting salt on the meat to remove all the blood.
In Japan they offer salt every time they perform a religious offering. So is the offering at Japanese feasts. Salt is not offered in Buddhism. Offering salt is again the same custom used by the Israelites, for it is written in the Bible that one has to offer salt with all his offerings (Leviticus 2:13).
In Judaism, salt is very essential. Talmud (the wisdom of Judaism) confirms that all sacrifices must have salt. Salt is preservative. While, honey and leaven were prohibited with sacrifices since they symbolize fermentation, decay and decomposition, the opposite of salt. There is the words "the everlasting covenant of salt" in the Bible (Numbers 18:19). Salt has meaning of anti-decay and permanence, and symbolizes the everlasting holy covenant of G-d. The Temple of Jerusalem had a special salt chamber, and Joshephus, a Jewish historian in the first century C.E., records a Greek king making a donation of 375 baskets of salt to the temple.
According to Zen'ichiro Oyabe, Japanese people before Meiji-era had the custom to put some salt into baby's bath. The ancient people of Israel washed a new born baby with water after rubbing the baby softly with salt; there is a description about "rubbing baby with salt" in the Bible (Ezekiel 16:4). Salt has cleansing and hygienic power and newborn babies were rubbed with salt.
Thus, there was the common custom of sanctification in both ancient Israel and Japan, and for this sanctification water and salt were used in both countries.
Uncleanness of the Dead
In Japan, salt in a pouch is distributed to participants of a funeral. After the funeral, when the participants come back and enter their houses, they have to be sprinkled on themselves with the salt for purification. Ancient Israelites who touched a dead body or went to a funeral also had to be purified in a specific way; the Bible says that a clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water, sprinkle it on the persons who were at funeral , or on the one who touched a bone, the slain, the dead, or a grave (Numbers 19:18). Thus in Israel the person who touched the dead had to be purified himself.
Even today, you find water outside a Jewish cemetery and outside the home, so people who are returning from a cemetery or funeral can wash their hands before entering the house. Before one goes to a funeral, one prepares water outside the home, so you can wash before reentering your home. Also in Japanese mythology, it is written that deity Izanagi went to the world of the dead (called Yomi in Japanese) to take his dead wife back, and when he came back from Yomi, he bathed in water of a river and purified himself from the impurity of the dead. In addition this Yomi, Japanese Shinto's world of the dead, is very much like Sheol which is the world of the dead mentioned in the Bible.
The very important feature of Japanese Shinto is that it has the concept of uncleanness or impurity of the dead. A house which has the dead, or a person who went to a funeral is said to have touched the uncleanness. The Western people do not have this concept. This uncleanness is not material but religious or ritual. This Shinto concept is the same as was in ancient Israel, for the Bible says that the one who touches the dead body of anyone shall be "unclean seven days" (Numbers 19:11).
In Shinto religion, a person with his/her family dead or relative dead is regarded unclean for a certain period. In the period, the person cannot come to a shrine, which was also a custom of ancient Israel.
Buddhist funeral is held inside temple, but Shinto funeral is held always outside shrine not to bring impurity into it. And the Shinto priest who participated the funeral does not bring things he used at the funeral into the shrine. Even when he has to bring in, he purifies them and then brings. He has to purify himself, too. Also in ancient Israel, funeral is never held at the temple.
The Bible records that the Israelites wept and mourned for "30 days" at the death of Moses and at the death of Aaron (Deuteronomy 34:8, Numbers 20:29). While a Japanese ancient Shinto book called Engishiki, which was written in 10th century C.E., set a period of 30 days for the uncleanness that a person cannot participate holy events, and set a period of 7 days for uncleanness of death of a fetus of within three months and death of a person lacking a part of the body. Thus, the Shinto concept of uncleanness of the dead resembles the custom of ancient Israel.
Impurity During Menstruation and Bearing Child
Not only the uncleanness of the dead, but also the the concept of uncleanness during menstruation and bearing child have existed in Japan since ancient times.
It has been a custom in Japan since old days that woman during menstruation should not attend holy events at shrine. She could not have relations with her husband and had to shut herself up in a shed (called Gekkei-goya in Japanese), which is built for collaboration use in village, during her menstruation and several days or about 7 days after the menstruation. This custom had been widely seen in Japan until Meiji era. After the period of shutting herself up ends, she had to clean herself by natural water as river, spring, or sea. It there is no natural water, it can be done in bathtub.
This resembles ancient Israeli custom very much. In ancient Israel, woman during menstruation could not attend holy events at the temple, had to be apart from her husband, and it was custom to shut herself up in a shed during her menstruation and 7 days after the menstruation (Leviticus 15:19, 28). This shutting herself up was said "to continue in the blood of her purification", and this was for purification and to make impurity apart from the house or the village.
This remains true even today. There are no sexual relations, for the days of menstruation and an additional 7 clean days. Then the woman goes to the Mikveh, ritual bath. The water of the Mikveh must be natural water. There are cases of gathering rainwater and putting it to the Mikveh bathtub. In case of not having enough natural water, water from faucet is added.
It may very well be that Jews and Japanese are the only ones to observe certain period of separation during and after the menstruation, and to have similar concept of uncleanness and purification. If so, it is a very interesting and ignored proof of ancient contact of the two peoples.
Modern people may feel irrational about this concept but women during menstruation or bearing child need rest physically and mentally. Woman herself says that she feels impure in her blood in the period. "To continue in the blood of her purification" refers to this need of rest of her blood.
Not only concerning menstruation, but also the concept concerning bearing child in Japanese Shinto resembles the one of ancient Israel. A mother who bore a child is regarded unclean in a certain period. This concept is weak among the Japanese today, but was very common in old days. The old Shinto book, Engishiki (the 10th century C.E.), set 7 days as a period that she cannot participate holy events after she bore a child. This resembles an ancient custom of Israel, for the Bible says that when a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be "unclean 7 days". She shall then "continue in the blood of her purification 33 days". In the case that she bears a female child, then she shall be "unclean two weeks", and she shall "continue in the blood of her purification 66 days'" (Leviticus 12:2-5).
In Japan it had been widely seen until Meiji era that woman during pregnancy and after bearing child shut herself up in a shed (called Ubu-goya in Japanese) and lived there. The period was usually during the pregnancy and 30 days or so after she bore a child (The longest case was nearly 100 days). This resembles the custom of ancient Israel.
In ancient Israel, after this period of purification the mother could come to the temple with her child for the first time. Also in the custom of Japanese Shinto, after this periond of purification the mother can come to the shrine with her baby. In modern Japan it is generally 32 days (or 31 days) after she bore the baby in case of a male, and 33 days in case of a female.
But when they come to the shrine, it is not the mother who carries the baby. It is a traditinal custom that the baby should be carried not by the mother, but usually by the husband's mother (mother-in-law). This is a remarkable similarity of purity and impurity of the mother, after childbirth, with ancient Israeli custom.
Altar of Earth
While, insead of stone, earth is sometimes used for religious worship. Nihon-shoki records that the first Japanese emperor Jinmu took earth from Mt. Ameno-kagu-yama, made many bricks from it and made an altar for worshiping G-ds. It seems that ancient Israelites also made altar from earth, for the Bible says, "An altar of earth you shall make for me (G-d)" (Shmos 20:24)
Altar could also be made of earth. In case of the altar made of earth, it meant that it was made of bricks. The history of brick is very old; in the Near East many bricks were already used even in the time of the Tower of Babel, about 4000 and several hundred years ago (Genesis 11:3).
It seems that the Israelites sometimes made bricks from earth and made altar of bricks. But compared with stone, brick is weak and easily decomposed by time, so archaeologists have not yet found altar of bricks in Israel, but found in other Near East countries.
When the Israelites were wandering the desert after their Shmos from Egypt, they met a flock of serpents and many people were bit and died. The poison were very strong like a fire. To save the people, Moses made "a bronze statue of serpent" according to the commandment of G-d and set it on a pole so that the people could look at it, and when one who had been bitten by serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he lived (Bamidbar 21:9).
After this incident ended, this bronze serpent had been in the safekeeping among the Israelites. The exsistence of this statue was never bad as long as the faith of the Israelites were sound. But when the Israelites degraded later, they began to worship the bronze serpent as their idol rather than to worship true G-d. As a result Hezekiah, a king of the southern kingdom of Judah in the 8th century B.C.E., broke the stature to stop the idolworship. The Bible records that he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the Israelites "burned incense to it" (Melachim II 18:4).
It was before this when the Ten Tribes of Israel were exiled to Assyria (722 B.C.E.). So it seems that the Ten Tribes had the custom of worshiping the bronze serpent when exiled.
At a Shinto shrine on Mt. Inomure, Ooita prefecture, until about 40 years ago, there had been a unique feast for begging rainfall, in which they firstly make a foundation by constructing 6 trunks of tree into the shape of the Shield of David, then on it they pile up a lot of branches and make it a tower, and on top of it they put a vertical pole with a slough of snake twining round it. People burn the branches and the tower and pray for rainfall. They burn incense to the snake expecting a supernatural power from it.
I saw the scene on a video and this reminds us of the custom of ancient Israel to worship the bronze serpent. Besides, G-ds which are worshiped in Japanese Shinto shrines are sometimes snakes. This might have some connection to ancient Israel.
Customs of the First Month
The Japanese traditionally celebrate a new year magnificently. They also do Obon feast on July 15 or August 15 every year as a national event. They have a saying, "It is as if Obon and a new year came together" which means very very busy. These two events are the most magnificent ones throughout a year in Japan.
Looking at the new year first, on January 1 many Japanese people begin to gather together at shrines even before dawn. And on January 1 they sit a happy circle with family and eat Mochi (Japanese Matzah). They eat Mochi for 7 days and on the 7th day they eat porridge with 7 kinds of bitter herbs.
Today, the Japanese use the solar calendar; the New Year's Day is January 1 and the day of eating porridge with 7 herbs is January 7. But historically the Japanese used the lunar calendar, when the New Year's day was the 15th of the first month because on that day was the first full moon. It is a remnant of this that today January 15 is called Small New Year's Day (Koshougatsu in Japanese). This day was also called "New Year's Day of Mochi". New Year's celebration was a feast of Mochi. And the night of January 14 is called New Year's Eve of the 14th Day. In the time of the lunar calendar, the 15th day of the first month was a national holiday.
According to Zen'ichiro Oyabe, before the 12th century C.E., the Japanese had eaten porridge with 7 bitter herbs on the 15th day of the first month, and on the following days they performed events to pray for good harvest of the new year. This is similar to the custom in ancient Israel. They celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread throughout the "7 days" "from the 15th day of the first month", when they ate the unleavened bread (Vayikra 23:6).
The unleavened bread, which is "matzah" in Hebrew, is a very thin bread prepared by kneading and baking without using yeast or leaven. The way of preparing Japanese Mochi is similar to this except for using rice instead of flour. Israeli "matzah" and Japanese Mochi are very similar each other in pronunciation as well as in meaning, recipe and purpose.
And the Israelites ate with "bitter herbs" on the 15th day of the first month (Shmos 12:8). Thus, just as the ancient Japanese ate with 7 bitter herbs on the 15th of the first month, the Israelites ate with bitter herbs on the 15th of the first month.
In the Jewish calendar, the 15th day of the first month, that is the first day of the feast, is full moon and the Sabbath (Leviticus 23:7). On the next day of this Sabbath, the Israelites offered firstfruits and prayed for a good harvest of the year (Leviticus 23:11).
The Japanese clean their houses thoroughly before the coming of New Year's Day. When the Jews look at it, they think, "This is the same custom as ours!" for they also had to clean their houses thoroughly before the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for the Bible says, "you shall remove leaven from your houses" (Shmos 12:15). So they had to purge all the houses and remove leaven from them. Passover among the Jews in India is called Holiday of Cleaning the House and they remove all leaven and clean the house.
Next, let us look at the Obon feast. In Japan they have an event called Obon on July 15 or August 15. In the time they used the lunar calendar it was held on the 15th day of the 7th month.
Today Obon is regarded as one of the events of Buddhism, but since the time long before Buddhism was imported to Japan, there had been a feast called Tama-matsuri which was the original of Obon. When Buddhism was imported to Japan, this Tama-matsuri was took in the events of Buddhism and became Obon. In ancient Israel on the 15th day of the 7th month was a big feast called the Feast of Booths (harvest feast, Vayikra 23:39).
Today the Japanese use the solar calendar and in many cases they now hold the Obon feast on the 15th day of the 8th month. Strangely this was the day when the harvest feast was held in the northern kingdom of Israel of the Ten Tribes. The Bible records that Jeroboam, the king of the northern kingdom, ordained a feast "on the 15th day of the 8th month" like the feast which was in the southern kingdom of Judah (Melachim I 12:32).
It was an Israeli tradition since ancient times to have the harvest feast on the 15th day of the 7th month, but King Jeroboam rejected this tradition and ordained a new day for the harvest feast on the 15th day of the 8th month.
In Israel, the Feast of Unleavened Bread (New Year) and the Feast of Booths (harvest feast) on the 15th day of the 7th month (or 8th month) were the most magnificent events throughout a year. Similar to this, the Japanese have been performing magnificent feasts at the same times as these. In Japan today, the 15th day of the 8th month is also the memorial day of the end of the last war.
Full Moon On the 15th Day
In Japan there is also a custom called Juugo-ya, which means 15th night, on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Japanese old lunar calendar. This is during September-October in today's solar calendar. This corresponds to the 15th day of the 7th month (Tishri) in the Jewish calendar, which is the day of the Feast of Booths. When the Japanese are celebrating Juugo-ya, the Jews are celebrating the Feast of Booths.
On this day, the Japanese often build a booth, gather together there with family, put Japanese pampas grass to a vase, offer harvest of the season like dumpling, taro, pear, etc., and enjoy the beauty of the full moon in Autumn. In Israel, on the 15th day of the 8th month in the northern kingdom of Israel, or on the 15th day of the 7th month in the southern kingdom of Judah, they built a booth, gathered together there with family, offered harvest of the season, rejoiced the harvest looking the beauty of the full moon in Autumn (Vayikra 23:39-42).
In Japan they have an elegant custom to offer firstfruits of harvest to G-d. They offer the firstfruits of cereals and fruits or a part of what they first get from their production.
Kanname-sai is a feast in October at Ise grand shrine to offer firstfruits to G-d. The ancient Israelites also had the custom of offering first fruits, for the Bible says that the first of the firstfruits of the land shall be brought to the temple (Shmos 34:26).
It is interesting to note that in Ise grand shrine in the time of Kanname-sai feast, the clothes, tables, and tools which are used in the service are all renewed. They do this in the sense of coming into a new year. In Judaism also, the month of the harvest feast (Tishri, September-October) is the time of a new year.
About a month after the Kanname-sai feast of Ise grand shrine, a feast called Niiname-sai is held at the Imperial House of Japan. Although the name is different, this is also the feast of offering a part of harvest.
Niiname-sai feast is held as follows; the feast begins at 6 p.m. and ends at around 1 a.m.. It is held at night. The emperor offers the harvest to G-d and after that, he eats them in front of G-d. By this ceremony the emperor is given from G-d the role as the leader of the nation. In ancient Israel, the leaders of Israel - Moses, Aaron, 70 elders, etc. - also ate in front of G-d (Shmos 24:11).
And the Niiname-sai feast which the emperor performs for the first time after he ascended to the throne is especially called Daijou-sai feast which is a larger Niiname-sai feast, when special booths are built for offering harvest. In the Daijou-sai feast of today's emperor Akihito, there were also simple but large booths built, and after the ceremony they broke the booths and burned them.
Daijou-sai feast is also held at night. Akihito's Daijou-si was held from 6:30 p.m. to the next morning. The emperor offered the harvest and ate in front of G-d. In ancient Israel and also today, the Jewish Feast of Booths begins at sunset. The Israelites came into the booths, decorated with harvest products, ate in front of G-d and rejoiced together.
I find several similarities between the Japanese Shinto way of wedding and the Jewish way of wedding.
In Shinto wedding, the bridegroom and bride drink from the same cup of liquor (Japanese Sake). In the same way in the Jewish wedding the bridegroom and bride drink from the same cup of wine, although this is not Biblical but Talmudic (the 3-6th century C.E.).
In the Jewish wedding today, after drinking wine, the bridegroom break a wine glass. This is to remember that the Temple of Jerusalem is destroyed. This custom started after the Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 C.E., and the Israelites before that did not have this custom of breaking the glass.
In Shinto wedding the bride has a shawl on her head and hides half of her face. The shawl is to the hight of her eyes today, but in old days, this was to hide all of her face (called Kazuki in Japanese). In old days, this shawl was also put when a Japanese woman attended a shrine.This custom of shawl was also seen among the ancient Israelites. In the Bible, Jacob, the ancestor of the Israelites, thought that he had married Rachal though, the bride was in fact not Rachal, but her sister Lear. It was due to darkness and the shawl on her face that he could not distinguish her.
Even today, Jewish bride puts a veil on her face in wedding . Ancient Israeli woman had the custom to put a shawl and hide her face when she comes out. Every time she comes to a synagogue, she had to put a shawl on her head.
It is also an important feature of Shinto that every Shinto priest is married. There is no rule in Shinto to make priest single. In modern Japan, most of Buddhist monks are married but this is a custom since Meiji-era. Before then, it was the custom of Buddhist monks to be single. Every Buddhist monk outside Japan is single. Catholic father is single. But Shinto priest is married. This is a tradition from the time immemorial. So was the ancient priest of Israel. So is rabbi of modern Judaism.
Concerning Japanese marriage, a Japanese woman told her memory. One day, her mother told her about the marriage of her aunt. After the aunt's husband was killed in a war, the aunt, who did not have any children then, married her husband's brother who had been at that time unmarried. About this marriage, the mother told her, "This is a traditional custom of Japan," but then she thought that today is the age of free love and it is consequential to marry whom one loves, and she could not understand what the mother said. However she told that later she was surprised knowing that this is the same as a Jewish custom.
It is true that that this is the same as a Jewish custom, for the Bible says that if brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead shall not be married outside the family to a stranger; her husband's brother shall go in to her, and take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her (Deuteronomy 25:5)
In Japan today, we cannot see this custom anymore usually, but it seems that this custom had been performed widely in Japan until recent time.
In Japan they have a traditional thought of atonement similar to the one of ancient Israel.
In Old Shintoism, there is a ceremony of atonement called Ooharai, which is a ritual to expel all the sins and impurity of the nation.
In the ceremony of Ooharai, the emperor comes there wearing a white linen clothes, which means a shabby figure. After the ritual, the clothes are placed on a small boat and let flow the river. People look at it flowing and vanishing from their sight, when a prayer is chanted that the Imperial Family of Japan came from heaven (Takama-no-hara or Takama-ga-hara) and started to reign the country of abundant nature, the archipelago of Japan, but there are many sins raise up among the nation and we have to dispose them, however these sins are strong and it is hard to dispose, so we have to have specific days for atonement and the emperor do a ritual of atonement and purification for the nation. That is why the emperor performs a ritual of letting his white linen clothes bear all the sins of the nation and letting them flow the river to abandon.
And among the citizens, priests of shrines give all the people's sins to white papers which are cut in the shape of a man and let them flow the river. Ancient Japanese people thought that they could not come into a new year without the atonement of their sins. Ooharai atonement is held twice a year on June 30 and December 31 every year at shrines and the Imperial House of Japan.The Jews have actually two New Year's Days in their Jewish calendar: One is the first day of the seventh month, and another the first day of the first month (the former is based on the creation of the world, and the latter on the Shmos).
The thought of Ooharai is similar to the thought of the Hebrew Scriptures. This Japanese custom resembles the Israeli custom of the scapegoat, which was a ritual held by the high priest of Israel at the temple of Jerusalem. The high priest prayed laying his hands on the head of the goat, let the goat bear all the sins of the people of Israel, took the goat to a solitary land, and looked at the goat vanish beyond the horizon, when the people were gratefull for that their sins were took away with the scapegoat to a land which cannot be seen and that G-d would not also look at their sins anymore. This ceremony was held every year (Leviticus chapter 16).
In Japan they also have a custom called Nagashi-bina, which is an atonement ceremony to let dolls with sins attached flow the river. Basically the concept of Japanese Ooharai and Nagashi-bina seem to be similar to the concept of Jewish scapegoat.
Furthermore, one Japanese Shintoist points out that the kinds of sin mentioned in the prayer of Ooharai atonement are very similar to the kinds of sin mentioned in the book of Leviticus. In the prayer of Ooharai, the kinds of sin mentioned are, "injuring a living person, injuring a dead body, leprosy, hunchback, fornication with mother, rape of one's own child, rape of mother and child, fornication with animal, magic, etc.."
These are very similar to the kinds of sin mentioned in Leviticus, which forbids the sins of injuring other person's body or one's own body (19:28), and profaning the dead body. The persons with leprosy (13:10-11), hunchback (21:20), or other deformity could not serve at the temple of G-d (21:17-23). Rape or fornication with mother, with one's own daughter, or with animal are of course forbidden (18:6-23). So is the sin of magic (Deuteronomy 18:11). Thus, the sins mentioned in the prayer of Japanese Ooharai are very similar to the ones mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Custom of Kanka and Jewish Passover
Jews have a holiday called Passover. This originates from the Book of Shmos in the Bible, and reminds that more than 3000 years ago, the Israelites, who had been slaves in Egypt, went out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses. There was an incident called Passover at the night just before they went out from Egypt. When occurred a disaster of death upon the first son of every house in Egypt, the disaster passed over all the houses of the Israelites.
The Israelites killed lamb under the commandment of G-d and put the blood to their gates. They soaked a bunch of hyssop with the blood and applied it to the gates. The houses with the blood were passed over by the angel of death. The Israelites grilled and ate the lamb at the night.
The similar custom is seen in the area of Ryuukyuu, Japan. A Christian leader, Juuji Nakada, wrote about 70 years ago that in Ryuukyuu, there was a custom to drive all bad things away by killing cattle and putting the blood to the gates of houses. This custom is called Kanka. Nakada thought that the reason why they used not sheep but cattle in Kanka custom was that there were no sheep in Japan.
I asked the school board of Okinawa about this custom. The answer was that they have in fact the custom called Kanka or Shimakusarashi (meaning driving away). They kill cattle, soak the blood with plant as Japanese pampas grass or leaves of mulberry, and apply the blood to their gates, four corners of their houses, and the entrance of the village not to let bad things come in. They grilled and ate the cattle on the day.
This reminds us of the custom of Passover in ancient Israel. And I hear that the Japanese word Kanka means passover.
We can see the Kanka custom even today, but today in many towns the cattle is replaced by pig. I asked "Why, pig?" The answer was that in the past, they were prohibited to kill cattle, so they changed to pig (There is an article in Okinawa Daihyakka Jiten (Okinawa encyclopedia) published by Okinawa Times).
Kanka custom is held mainly in the second month and eighth month in the Japanese old lunar calendar (2-3 times a year). The second month in the Japanese lunar calendar corresponds with Spring - March or April in the solar calendar, and it is interesting that this is about the same season as Jewish Passover feast. According to the Bible, the lamb for the Passover was killed on the 14th day of Nisan (Abib) in the Jewish calendar, and this corresponds with March or April in the solar calendar.
Putting off Shoes and Washing Feet
The Japanese emperor performs the Daijou-sai (the big harvest feast) after his accession to the throne, when he changes his clothes to white ones and come forward to G-d with his feet naked. There he receives oracle of G-d and becomes true emperor and leader of the nation.
This is similar to a thought in the Bible. When Moses came forward to G-d, he put off his shoes and became barefoot (Shmos 3:5). So did Joshua (Joshua 5:15). There they received oracle of G-d and became true leaders of the nation.
When the Japanese come into their house, they put off their shoes, too. The Western and the Chinese come into their house with their shoes on, but the Japanese do not. According to Zen'ichiro Oyabe, until the beginning of Meiji-era (about 100 years ago), there was a custom in Japan to prepare a washtub with water or hot water for a person who walked outside to wash his/her feet before entering the house. Oyabe says that this is a traditional custom peculiar to Japan and not the one they learned from other Asian countries.
The ancient Israelites had the custom of washing their feet; there are several descriptions about washing feet in the Bible (Judges 19:21, etc.). Washing feet before entering a house was a daily custom of the ancient Israelites.
Horses Dedicated to the Sun
In Japanese Shinto religion, the sun Goddess Amaterasu is worshiped as the ancestor deity of the Imperial House of Japan and as the supreme deity for the nation of Japan. Ise grand shrine is built for Amaterasu.
If you look at the inside of Ise grand shrine, near the entrance you will find horses dedicated to the sun Goddess Amaterasu. These horses are not just ordinary ones but are the horses which the Imperial House of Japan dedicated to the sun Goddess. The horses are to be put beautiful clothes on, brought to a holy place of the shrine three times a month and bow their heads to the sun Goddess.
This is a tradition since ancient times in Japan, and also in Israel, for the Bible records that King Josiah, of the southern kingdom of Judah, removed the "horses" that the kings of Judah had "dedicated to the sun" "at the entrance to the house of the Lord", and he also burned "the chariots of the sun with fire" (2 Kings 23:11). This horse dedication is mentioned only once in the Bible, and it is amazing that this ceremony also existed in Israel.
King Josiah, who reigned 639-608 B.C.E., did a religious reformation and removed the custom to dedicate horses to the sun. Until that time, such a pagan custom had been performed throughout generations by kings. This was after the Ten Tribes of Israel were exiled to Assyria. It seems that this custom to dedicate horses to the sun had also been performed in the northern kingdom of Israel, because pagan customs in the southern kingdom were almost without exceptions performed also in the northern kingdom. The custom of dedicating the horses to the sun in Ise grand shrine might originate from this.
And in many other shrines in Japan, you will find a place where many plates of wood are hung, on which painted are horses. Words of people's prayer are also written on them and these plates are called Ema in Japanese meaning horse painting. A priest of a shrine taught me that in old days people dedicated a living horse but later it became difficult to keep and was substituted by the custom to dedicate the plates of horse painting.
Dedicating of horses was very common in Mesopotamia and this could show a connection to Israel or its neighbors.
The Renewal of Taika
In ancient Japan there was an awful conflict concerning the reign of Japan between the Shintoists and Buddhists; so called the conflict between Mononobe clan (Shintoists) and Soga clan (Buddhists). Once the Buddhists had the power to reign but later in the time of the Renewal of Taika (645 C.E.), the Shintoists recovered the power to reign. In the Renewal of Taika we find appearance and disappearance of the relation with ancient Israel because it was the time of recover of the Shintoists.
For instance, the declaration of the start of a new age of the Renewal of Taika by the new government was in the beginning of the 7th month. The Japanese ancient chronicles, Nihon-syoki, records that on the second day of the 7th month they set a new princess and it seems that the first day of the 7th month was actually the beginning of the Taika era. The first day of the 7th month is the New Year's Day for the Jews. They celebrate it (the first day of Tishri) as the New Year's Day but it is the Sabbath, so they cannot work except for religious things. It was the first day of the 7th month that the priest Ezra let people listen to the Torah and started his religious reformation among them in the 5th century B.C.E. (Nechemiah 8:2). But except for this kind of religious events, the official events must be from the second of the 7th month.
And Nihon-shoki records that the new government sent messengers "on the 14th day of the 7th month" to offer their traditional religious offerings for Shinto G-ds. This is the day, in the Jewish custom, to prepare for G-d the religious offerings for a Jewish big feast, the Feast of Booths. This coincidence is amazing.
This is not everything. In the Renewal of Taika, a new law started for distributing lands to people. This law, which continued until about 900 C.E., was that the government were to redistribute lands to citizens every 6 years. The model for this was a Chinese law but in the Chinese law the redistribution was when a farmer became 60 years old or when he died, and was not every 6 years. Then, why did the Japanese government redistributed the lands every 6 years?
In ancient Israel, there was a law to use lands 6 years and during the 7th year the lands had a rest (Vayikra 25:3-4). This was to avoid continual farming and weakening of the lands and it seems that this Hebrew law became a model for the law of redistributing at the Renewal of Taika. Someone guesses that the Japanese might used the 7th year for the redistribution of the lands.
And in this redistributing, the size of the land was determined according to the number of people of the family. This was the same in ancient Israel, where the size of the land of inheritance was determined according to the size of the number of people of the tribe (Bamidbar 26:54).
The Imperial Edict of the Renewal of Taika Resembled the Laws of Moses
Besides, among the laws which started at the Renewal of Taika there are many which make us feel an association with the laws of the Torah. For instance, in the Laws of Men and Women of the Renewal of Taika, it is written that:
"Give the child who was born between a male slave and a female slave to the mother, female slave."
This was the same in ancient Israel. The master gave the child who was born between a male slave and a female slave to the mother, female slave, and the male slave had to go out alone (Shmos 21:4). And in the page of the Messenger at the Renewal of Taika, it is written:
"Collect double from the one who got unjustly."
This means to collect double of the amount of money from the one if he got something which is not his by lying that it is his unjustly. This is the same as a law of the Torah, for the Torah says that penalty for stealing is to pay double (Shmos 22:9).
In the page of the Abolition of Old Customs at the Renewal of Taika, it is written:
"Abolish the custom that a living person cuts his hair or spears his thigh for the dead."
Among many nations are the custom that a living person injures himself for the dead. In Taiwan, they have a festival in which people injure themselves and shed blood. It was true also in Japan but the Renewal of Taika forbad it. This was the same as a law of the Torah, for the Torah says that one shall not make "any cuttings in his flesh for the dead", nor "tattoo" any marks on him (Vayikra 19:28).
Jews are forbidden by the Bible to cut the body and to tatoo. Shinto priests do not tatoo nor cut the body. Also in the laws of the Torah it was forbidden that a priest or a citizen shaved the hair of the head (Vayikra 21:5, 19:27). Buddhist monks shave their heads, but Shinto priests do not.
It is interesting to note that in the same page of the Abolition of Old Customs, it is written about justice:
"Even if there are three definite witnesses, all should state facts and then bring the case to the officer. Do not sue recklessly."
Here why does it say "three definite witnesses"? It seems that in this background is a thought that there should be at least two or three witnesses, but even if in the case there are three witnesses they should not sue recklessly; they should state detailed facts before suing. This is associated with a law of Moses, for the Bible says that one witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of "two or three witnesses" the matter shall be established (Deuteronomy 19:15).
This is because the word of one witness could be a lie to entrap the suspect.
Also in the page of Abolition of Old Customs, it is written:
"Until now there has been a trend that, for instance, during a man entrusts a horse to a person, the horse dies accidentally because of the person's fault, the man requires too much compensation from him."
And the law of the Renewal of Taika forbad this kind of requirement for compensation. This is the same spirit as mentioned in a law of Moses, for the Bible says that if a man delivers to his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep, and it dies, is hurt, or driven away, no one seeing it, then an oath of the Lord shall be between them both, that he has not put his hand into his neighbor's goods; and the owner of it shall accept that, and "he shall not make it good" (Shmos 22:10-11).
Thus the laws promulgated at the Renewal of Taika are very similar to the laws of Moses.
Did the Ancient Japanese Speak Hebrew?
In Kojiki, Nihon-shoki and other ancient documents, we find many words similar to Hebrew in both meaning and pronunciation.
For instance, the first Japanese emperor Jinmu gave leaders of area the title "Agata-nushi"; "Agata" means area and "nushi" means leader. Also in Hebrew "agudah" means group and "nasi" means leader (In modern Hebrew it is nasi-agudah).
In Japanese an emperor is called with a title "mikado", which sounds like Hebrew words "migadol" meaning the noble. Every Japanese emperor is called with a title "mikoto", which sounds close to a Hebrew word "malhut" meaning kingdom or king. Every Japanese emperor is also called with a title "sumera-mikoto", which has no specific meaning as a Japanese word, but if we interpret it as a Hebrew phrase "shomron malhuto", it means Samaria his kingdom or king of Samaria. The ancient name for a Japanese Shinto priest is "negi", while a Hebrew word "nagid" means leader.
The ancient Japanese name for a tomb of emperor or empress is "misasagi", while a Hebrew word "mut sagar" means to close the dead.
A researcher interpreted the Hebrew word for Canaan (ancient word for the land of Israel) as a combination of "qanah nah" which means field of reed, while the ancient Japanese called their country "Ashihara" which means field of reed in Japanese.
In the Japanese ancient books Kojiki and Nihon-shoki, we find many other words which remind us of Israel. The ancient name for an area in Nara prefecture is "Iware" which reminds me of a Hebrew word "Ivri" meaning Hebrew. The ancient name of a land in Nara prefecture "Asuka" resembles a Hebrew word "hasukkah" which means the tabernacle. In Asuka was built the ancient house of emperor. A Japanese scholar says that "a" is a prefix and "suka" means tabernacle or dwelling. Also in Hebrew "ha" is a prefix which means the, and "sukkah" means tabernacle or booth.
Similarity Between the Stories of the Bible and the Old Japanese Documents
We find several similarities between the stories of the Bible and the stories of the old Japanese documents. For instance, there is a similarity between Israeli King David (the second king of Israel) and Japanese Emperor Sujin (the 10th emperor, 148-30 B.C.E.).
The Bible mentions that in the reign of King David, there was a famine for three years (2 Samuel 21:1) and in the following pestilence about seventy thousand people died (24:15). While according to Nihon-shoki, in the reign of Emperor Sujin there was a pestilence for three years and about half of the people died. Both kings felt responsible for these terrible sights, and required punishment from G-d. David asked it through a prophet and Sujin asked through divining.
Kojiki also records that Emperor Sujin did his fight in the land of "Idomi", while the Bible records that King David did his fight in the land of "Edom" (2 Samuel 8:14). Here we find not only the similarity of pronunciations but also the similarity of stories.
David's son was King Solomon, who built the first temple for the heavenly G-d. While Sujin's son, Emperor Suinin, built the first Shinto shrine named Ise grand shrine. There are also some other similarities between the two kings.
Another interesting similarity exists between the King Saul (the first king of Israel), and Japanese Emperor Chuuai (the 14th emperor).
The Bible records that King Saul was "a handsome man... and taller than any of the people" (1 Samuel 9:2). While Nihon-shoki records that Emperor Chuuai was "a handsome man and about three meters tall." Both men were very tall and handsome.
King Saul came from the tribe of Benjamin. In the land of Benjamin there is a famous town called "Anathoth". While according to Kojiki, Emperor Chuuai reigned the country at "Anato", which sounds close to Anathoth. King Saul fought Moab, whose another name was Chemosh, in Hebrew "kemosh". This sounds close to "Kumaso" tribe which Emperor Chuuai fought. Saul died early because he committed a sin of disobeying the word of G-d, while it is written that Emperor Chuuai also died early because he disobeyed the word of G-d.
In addition, concerning the similarity between tribal names in the Bible and Japanese mythology, one of the tribes which ancient Japanese Yamato tribe fought is called the tribe of "Emisi" or "Ebusu", which sounds close to the tribe name of Jebusites, in Hebrew "yebus" (Joshua 15:63).
Similarity Between Japanese and Hebrew
Joseph Eidelberg points out that there are many Japanese words which are very similar to Hebrew in both meaning and pronunciation.
A Japanese word "anata" which means you is also said "anta", and in the dialect of Kyushu is said "atah". In Hebrew this is also "atah" or "anta". "Aruku" in Japanese meaning to walk is in Hebrew "halak".
Japanese "hakaru" means to measure and Hebrew "haqar"means to investigate or measure. Japanese "horobu" means to perish and Hebrew "horeb" means to become ruined or perish. Japanese "teru" means to shine and Hebrew "teurah" means illumination.
Japanese "meguru" means to circle and "magaru" means to turn, while Hebrew "magal" means circle. Japanese "toru" meaning to take is "tol" in Hebrew. Japanese "kamau" means to mind or care and Hebrew "kamal" means to sympathize.
Japanese "damaru" which means to become silent is "damam" in Hebrew. Japanese "hashiru" means to run and Hebrew "hush" means to hurry. Japanese "nemuru" means to sleep and Hebrew "num" means to doze.
Japanese "ito" which means thread is "hut" in Hebrew. The stick with white papers of zigzag pattern put on its upper part which the Shinto priest waves is called "nusa" in Japanese, while a Hebrew word "nes" means flag. Japanese "ude" means arm and Hebrew "yad" means hand. Japanese "kata" which means shoulder is "qatheph" in Hebrew. Japanese "owari" which means end or finish is "aharith" in Hebrew.
Japanese "kyou" which means today is "qayom" in Hebrew. Japanese "tsurai" means painful and Hebrew "tzarah" means trouble or misfortune. Japanese "karui" which means light in weight is "qal" in Hebrew. Hebrew "qor" means coldness and reminds of a Japanese word "kooru" which means freeze or "koori" which means ice.
Japanese "samurau" means to serve or guard (for the noble) and Hebrew "shamar" means to guard (Genesis 2:15). In Japanese, from "samurau" came a word "samurai" which means Japanese ancient warrior or guard. Also in Hebrew, if we attach a Hebrew suffix "ai" meaning profession to "shamar", it would be "shamarai" which sounds close to the Japanese guard "samurai". [This is the same case as "banai" which is a Hebrew word for builder and is a combination of "banah" (to build) and "ai" (suffix meaning profession) . Modern Hebrew does not have the word "Shamurai" but it fully satisfies the grammar of Hebrew.]
Researchers point out many other similarities between Japanese and Hebrew. A researcher points out more than 500 similarities of words. Among them, there may be several examples of similarity only by chance, even in those I listed here, but can we think all of these are by chance? There could be, by mere chance between two languages, several words which resemble each other in pronunciation and meaning, but when there are many words similar between the two, we may have to think that there is etymologic relationship between the two. Japanese includes many words which seem to have Hebrew origin.
Are Nestorians the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel?
In 1841 a book appeared, The Nestorians, or the Lost Tribes - Evidence of their Identity, published in New York, by Asahel Grant, who was a medical missionary. This is a very interesting book, for many Nestorian Christians also came to Japan.
Nestorian Christianity was born in the Middle East, spread to the east, had much power in the Tang dynasty of China (the 7-10th century C.E.), and had much influence on the people of Asia also in the following ages. Today, there are but a few Nestorians. Grant lived in the 19th century and spent abundance of time with the Nestorians.
He claims that everyone in the areas of Persia (Iran), Iraq, Armenia, and Kurdistan believes that the Nestorians are the descendants of the Lost Tribes and they indeed behave in manners very close to the Tribes of Israel. Their language is Aramaic which was the ancient Israeli and Middle Eastern language. They do not eat the forbidden foods of the Bible, they have Hebrew and Israeli-sounding names like Abraham, Joshua, Benjamin, Dan, Joseph, etc..
And they have other ceremonies as the tithe, sacrifices, first fruit, Sabbath observance like the Jews, as they do not cook or use fire for cooking on the Sabbath, and have fast days similar to the Jews and a Holy of Holies similar to the Jews, observe Passover, circumcision and baptism on the 8th day, and live in the manner of the ancient tribes, and have cities of refuge should anyone have committed an accidental murder would have a place to escape in safety (Numbers chapter 35), all of which is found in the ancient Israeli tradition.
Concerning the Nestorians, Ikuro Teshima (the founder of Makuya sect, mentioned later) has a similar testimony. In 1939, Teshima was in the outback of China, where he was using a servant who came from a Muslim village for miscellaneous duties under the order of his commander. According to what the servant talked to him, the people of his village now live as Muslims but do not eat pork nor sinew of hip which is on the socket of thigh (Genesis 32:32), their ancestors are Israelites and they escaped to the land because their houses were burnt in the war of one hundred years ago.
Hearing this, Teshima started to check it. He heard from Swedish missionaries Rev. & Mrs. Brom who were working for evangelism there since 50 years ago, "In the outback of China live the descendants of ancient Nestorian Christians. Many of them are now under the influence of superstition of Dao jiao or became Muslims or Catholics.... The Nestorians came to China passing the Silk Road. It is important to note that the Nestorians are actually Jewish Christians. They are Israelites."
The Study by Yoshiro Saeki
Next, let us look at the Nestorians who came to Japan.
In 1908, the president of Tokyo Literature and Science University, Yoshiro Saeki, published a valuable book about the Nestorians who came to Japan. Saeki insisted that Hata (or Hada) clan who came to Japan passing via the Korean Peninsula in the 3rd or 4th century C.E. were "Jewish Nestorians."
In fact, at Oosake shrine in Sagoshi, Hyougo prefecture, there is a foreign mask which a typical person of Hata clan named Kawakatsu Hata brought from Kugyueh in Central Asia to Japan. On the mask is carved a cherub which is an angel in the Bible. The mask has semitic feature having a high nose and somewhat looks like the Tengu, which might originate from the mask.
It is written in Nihon-syoki that in the reign of Emperor Kougyoku (641-643 C.E.) the topic of Hata clan spread among people and a song started to be sung by the people: "Uzu-masa is the G-d of G-ds; he conquered the G-ds."
In Uzumasa, Kyoto, there is a shrine called Oosake shrine which Hata clan founded. At the entrance pillar is carved that it is for deity Uzu-masa. According to the board which explains the history of Oosake shrine there, Oosake came from the Chinese word for David. So it was thought that this shrine was founded in the memorial of David, a king of ancient Israel which was the original land of Hata clan. David is known as a master of harp. At the entrance pillar of Oosake shrine is also carved that it is for the anscestor of orchestral music and dance, which seems to refer to David.
And near the shrine there is a house of the descendant of Hata clan and in the site of it, there is a well called Isarai even today. In old days there were 12 wells similar to this in the region, and Saeki thought that this Isarai came from the word Israel.
Also near Oosake shrine, there is a temple called Kouryuu-ji which was again founded by Hata clan. A Japanese classical scholar, Kinjou Oota (1765-1825), left a word about the temple, "This has a title of temple but it is not a temple of Buddhism, but of Nestorian Christianity." Oota also thought that Nestorian Christianity came in to Japan in very early times.
In Kouryuu-ji temple they have a traditional unique festival called Ushi-matsuri (meaning cattle festival), in which a man with a mask, which looks not like Japanese, comes in riding on a cattle, reads the prayer of driving all bad things away, and after that, he runs away to a house. Some researchers say that this may be a Jewish ritual added by some pagan elements.
Saeki published an article headlined "Japanese Jews." on Nov. 27, 1908, issue of the Jewish weekly newspaper in Shanghai, Israel's Messenger. According to him, in Japan there are people called Eta, who are forced to live in corners of town and forced to engage in hard work. They belonged to the lowest social class and were under hard discrimination. Eta was the unfair name in despise.
But Saeki claimed that among the people called Eta there were people like Jews. They engaged in various industries, especially shoemaking. As Jews in Europe, they lived in ghettos and preferred to be isolated from the rest of the population. His article drew them as able laborers and stated, "Some of them engaged in commerce and became successful businessmen."
According to Saeki, they did not look like the Japanese and the women among them looked rather Semitic than Mongolian.
The most remarkable thing in the article was that the people called Eta observed Jewish customs. He says that in Nagasaki, their ghetto observes the Sabbath very religiously. They do not smoke or kindle fires or work on that day just like observant Jews.
But I have to mention that as far as I know, no one else of Saeki found these Jewish ceremonies with the Eta. I personally searched about the Eta and did not find any Jewish traces with them. In Japan there are no people called Eta today (officially) and it is difficult to confirm what Saeki mentioned.
However, it is interesting to think of this Saeki's research with the above mentioned insistence by Asahel Grant that the Nestorians were the Lost Tribes of Israel.
Concerning that many Nestorians came to Japan, it is also known by remains of all over Japan. In Gunma prefecture, Japan, there is a place called Tako which means many foreigners. Japanese scholars say that it was named so because there were many foreigners there.
Hitsuji of the name of the monument means sheep, and Japanese scholars say that there were people who bred sheep there. The author of The Secret History of the Japanese Nation (Nihon minzoku hi-shi), Isamu Kawase, had a research in China and stated that a kind of sheep called Kanyan bred in northern China was the same as Awashi sheep which is bred in Israel. He thought that the sheep which had been bred till the Nara-era (the 8th century C.E.) in Gunma prefecture, Japan, were also Kanyan sheep.
Japan did not have sheep originally. The sheep in Gunma might have come to Japan with the Nestorians, who might be the Israelites.
The Study by Ikuro Teshima
There is a group called Makuya in Japan. The founder of Makuya, Ikuro Teshima, was a great researcher about the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, the Jews, the Hata clan and others.
According to Teshima, among all the Shinto shrines in Japan, the most numerous are Yahata (or Hachiman) shrines, which used to be called Yahada shrines in old days.
The G-d of Yahada was the one which Hata clan believed in. Teshima thought as did Saeki that Hata clan were Jewish Nestorians, and Yahada was originally a Hebrew word "yehudah" (hdwhy) meaning Judea. That is, the G-d of Yahada is to be the G-d of Judea. The Japanese ancient book of history, Kojiki, clearly says that the G-d of Yahada is a foreign G-d. Teshima also claims:
"The Japanese ancient book of history, Zoku-nihon-gi (Nihon-shoki part2), records that in 736 C.E. Emperor Shoumu gave a rank to a Nestorian Kouho and to a Persian Mitsui Lee. This was the first formal record of the arrival of the Nestorians, but it is obvious that even before that, the Nestorians had already engaged in evangelism from Kouryuuji temple as their hub of their activity."
"It is said that the principal image of Hansoubou temple of a mountain on the back of Hamana lake, Shizuoka prefecture, is a Jewish Nestorian monk named Akiba."
"Until World War 2, it was customary in Japan that, when a baby was born, neighbors and friends of the family celebrated the birth by presenting to the family a White Kimono for a boy, or a Red Kimono if the baby was a girl. On the back of these new garments, the well-wishers sewed the symbol of the Shield of David. After the war the custom is gradually dying out, as more and more Western clothes tend to be used instead of the traditional Kimono. However, since time immemorial, the Shield of David has been sewn on the back of the new born baby's kimono, as a time honored symbol of blessing for the infant. This custom of wishing good fortune prevailed through most of Japan, and most people over forty still remember this custom of their youth. It was traditional that the Shield of David be sewn with twelve stitches, symbolizing the twelve tribes of Israel."
"In Japan we have a fairy tale that when Momotarou went to conquer Onigashima island, he reanimated his vassal singing "En yalah yah!" But if we parents are asked by a child what this means, we cannot answer because we do not know the meaning. "En yalah yah" sounds like a Hebrew expression "eni ahalel yah" which means "I praise Yahweh." I have seen the festival of Myomi shrine of Yashiro city in Kumamoto prefecture before, and I heard them singing "Hallelujah, harliyah, harliyah, tohse, yahweh, yahweh, yoiton nah..." which also sounds like Hebrew."
All of these are interesting descriptions. Teshima also claims concerning the tombs of the people of Hata clan in Kyoto that these tombs are similar to the Jewish ones in the build. Ancient Jews made a cave by digging a tunnel or piling up rocks and made it a tomb; the tombs of Hata clan have the same build.
And it is interesting to note that oil lamps from 2500 years ago are discovered at Mt. Yuzuki near Oomiwa shrine of Nara prefecture. These oil lamps are, as Teshima states, similar to the ones used in ancient Israel (See the picture).
Hata Clan and Gion Festival
In 794 C.E., the government of Japan moved from Nara to Kyoto. It was Hata clan to play an active part to build the City of Heian in Kyoto to make it the capital of Japan. The chief of Hata clan, Kawakatsu Hata, build the City of Heian mobilizing all his sites, wealth, and technology.
Hata clan, who had come in early ages of Japan with a multitude of people and lived in various places of Japan, already had a potency over Japan in the 8th century C.E.. Please remember that Asahel Grant stated the Nestorians were the Lost Tribes of Israel, and that Yoshiro Saeki and Ikuro Teshima also believed Hata clan were Jewish Nestorians. In fact, the name of the City of Heian reminds us of the name of Jerusalem, which means the City of Peace in Hebrew and Japanese Heian also means peace. If we translate Jerusalem into Japanese, it would be the City of Heian (Heian-kyo). It seems there is a Jewish admiration to Jerusalem in this name.
Just after the move of the government to the City of Heian, a festival called Gion festival (Gion-matsuri) began to be performed in Kyoto. Even today the Japanese perform Gion festivals in various places of Japan on July 17 or around that time. The center of the festivals is Gion festival of Yasaka shrine in Kyoto. The central event of Gion festival of Kyoto has been performed always on July 17, or the 17th day of the 7th month, since old days.
The important part of the festival is during 8 days from July 17, and they also have important events on July 1 and 10. The 17th day of the 7th month mysteriously matches the day when Noah's ark drifted ashore mountains of Ararat; the Bible records, "the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat" (Genesis 8:4).
Since then, ancient Israelites might have had a thanksgiving feast on this day every year, although there is no Biblical record. Since Moses, it was replaced by the Feast of Booths (Sukkot) which is performed on the 1st day, 10th day and during 8 days from the 15th day of the 7th month. Nevertheless, the Israelites knew well of the 17th day of the 7th month to be the day when Noah's ark rested, because it is written in the Bible. We know that the Bene Israel of India, whom I mentioned in chapter 3, still obeserved some lost ancient Jewish festivals. Could it be that a lost Jewish festival is still surviving in Japan?
Gion festival in Kyoto began in the wish that no pestilence might occur among people. This resembles the circumstances that when the temple of Jerusalem was established by King Solomon, he had a festival in the wish that no pestilence might occur among people. Solomon had the festival during 8 days (including the last day of solemn assembly) since the 15th day of the 7th month (2 Chronicles 7:8-10). There is a difference of two days between Solomon's festival and Gion festival but both were performed during 8 days in almost same time of the year and in the same wish.
A Scottish businessman, N. McLeod, came to Japan in Meiji era and saw Gion festival in Kyoto. He wrote that various things in Gion festival reminded him of Jewish festivals.
At Gion festival, carpets, which were imported from Persia and India via the Silk Road in the 16th century, are used as the decoration for the festival cars even today. And Japanese historians say that even in the times before it, and since very early times, many naturalized foreigners lived in Kyoto, which was indeed a big international city of the world. Not a few Jews, who came via the Silk Road, seem to have participated or enjoyed looking at the Gion festival.
Gion festival always starts with a voice of "En yalah yah". Even when we ask a Japanese person, "What does it mean?" he only says, "I don't know." But as mentioned above, to Jews this sounds like a Hebrew expression "eni ahalel yah" meaning "I praise Yahweh."
Is Hata Clan Ancient Jewish Diaspora?
The people of Hata clan were the most numerous among the foreigners who came to Japan in the time of C.E., According to an ancient Japanese book, Shinsen-shouji-roku, a multitude of Hata clan led by Sukune, king of Uzumasa came to Japan in the reign of Emperor Chuuai (according to a theory, in 356C.E.).
And in the reign of Emperor Oujin, another multitude of Hata clan led by King Yuzu came with 18670 people and naturalized into the Japanese (according to a theory, in 372 C.E.). This was an immense multitude. The king offered to the Imperial House many gold, silver, silk, and other treasures which they brought via the Silk Road.
Hata clan came to Japan in the 5th century, too. Even after that, many other people of Hata clan came to Japan and naturalized into the Japanese. But it is written that they were tall and different from the Japanese in their figure, language, and customs.
Hata clan were very good at techniques for sericulture and silk fabric. One of their shrines, Kaiko-no-yashiro shrine in Uzumasa, Kyoto, which means shrine of silkworm, was named for this. This reminds us of the Jews on the Silk Road was very good at techniques for sericulture and silk fabric.
Many of the descendants of Hata clan used the symbols of sailboat as their family crests. Is it related to that the crest of the tribe of Zevulun, one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, was sailboat?
Hata clan is said to have come from Kungyueh which was located in the Central Asia and was a big base of the Nestorians. According to the study by Ikurou Teshima, when Shi huang di began to construct Wanli Changcheng, Hata clan was ordered to engage in the construction, but they could not bear the work and escaped via Manchuria to Korean peninsula, where they again experienced predicament, but they were finally helped by the Japanese emperor who wanted to learn excellent civilization from Hata clan. While, Hata clan appreciated the grace of the emperor and they became the people who served Japanese emperors faithfully. It seems that the religion of Hata clan began to change gradually in that process.
Inside Kouryuu-ji temple, which was a base of Hata clan in Kyoto, is placed an image of Miroku bodhisattva. Why does it have an image of Buddhism although it was the temple of Hata clan? The belief in Miroku bodhisattva was, as stated by Mrs. E. A. Gordon, born due to the belief in Messiah of Judaism or Christianity which entered in India. She says that the belief in Messiah entered India and became Maitreya, which later entered China and became Miref, which later entered Japan and became Miroku bodhisattva.
The belief in Miroku (Messiah) was also popular in Kungyueh, their homeland. That was why Hata clan compromised with Miroku bodhisattva which was thought to be the Buddhist Messiah in Japan. They saw their own Messiah through Miroku. Thus, they started to lose their identity as the Nestorian Christians.
Hata Clan and the Imperial House of Japan
Concerning the deep relationship between Hata clan and the Imperial House of Japan, Abraham Kotsuji who was a professor from Monmouth College in New Jersey, USA, states an interesting thing. He came from Kyoto and his ancestors were priests of Shimogamo shrine in Kyoto since the time of the first priest of the shrine. Kotsuji himself was to be the priest. Shimogamo shrine was built in the 8th century C.E. in the memory of a patriarch of Hata clan. Prof. Kotuji thinks that his ancestors also came from Hata clan.
In old days, the imperial palace was in Kyoto and Shimogamo shrine had the deepest relationship with the Imperial House. Over 70 rituals which related to the Imperial House were performed there a year. This teaches us that Hata clan and the Imperial House were in a deep relationship.
Professor Kotsuji was a scholar of semitic languages and Hebrew scriptures. In 1939, he became the advisor on Jewish affairs for Mantetsu (railroad company of Manchuria by the Japanese government) on the request of Yosuke Matshoka (president of Mantetsu). Kotsuji thought that Hata clan were Jews. Later he moved back to Japan, and he was one of the famous people who helped the Jews who escaped from Nazi Germany to Kobe, at the beginning of World War 2. In 1959 he converted to Judaism. He went to Jerusalem, was circumcised and given the name Abraham. He died in Kamakura, Japan, in 1973, and his dying wish was conveyed to Rabbi Marvin Tokayer to be buried in his ancestral homeland - Israel. It was during the Yom Kippur War and no planes to Israel, but the rabbi arranged for him to be on the first flight to Israel, where he was met by thousands at the airport who remembered his kindness to Jewish refuges in Kobe, and they buried him with honor in Jerusalem.
Kotsuji called the religion of the Bible "Shinto of Israel" or " higher Shinto" (Shinto means G-d's way in Japanese). He was a bridge of Japan and Israel, or I would rather say that Japan and Israel were one in him.
The Existence of Emperor
To think about the relation between Japan the Ten Tribes of Israel, it is important to consider of the existence of Japanese emperor. The Japanese emperor is not just a king, but he is also a high priest. He is a priestly king. The emperor is in a deep relation with Shinto and sits on the central position of Shinto.
During the chapter 1-4, we saw about the Ten Tribes of Israel in Afghanistan, India, Kashmir, Myanmar, and China, but they did not have such a priestly king as the Japanese emperor. How did Japan begin to have such emperor system of single family line from generation to generation? . A researcher thought that it was due to that the royal line of Israelites came to Japan.
The ancient king of Israel was not just a king but also a priestly king. Although there was a person called a high priest as well as him, but the king of Israel often participated in religious affairs. He was not just a political king, but he often played a central role of religious rituals. The king of Israel was, in a sense, similar to the emperor of Japan.
After King Solomon died, in ancient Israel the royal line was divided into two; one is took over by the southern kingdom of Judah, and another by the northern kingdom of Israel. In the southern kingdom, the royal line reigned the country but lost its power after the Babylonian exile. Then, how was it in the northern kingdom?
The first king of the northern kingdom was Jeroboam who was from the tribe of Ephraim, and the last king of the northern kingdom just before the Assyrian exile was Hoshea. According to the Bible, all the kings of the northern kingdom disobeyed the teachings of G-d, but among them Hoshea was a better one, for the Bible records that he did evil but not as the kings of Israel who were before him (2 Kings 17:2). Hoshea and his staff members were exiled to Assyria in 722 B.C.E..
The royal line of the northern kingdom of Israel was originally born in the rebellion against the royal line of Judah. So it was very possible that after the exile they thought to go to a distant land, rather than to go back to Israel, and planned to make a country there and redo what they could not do.
While, when did the Japanese emperor start to exist? It is generally said that it was 660 B.C.E when the first Japanese emperor Jinmu ascended the throne. The Imperial House of Japan had already existed even before Hata clan first came to Japan. Is the Imperial House of Japan in the lineage of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, especially of its royal line?
The Formal Name for Emperor Jinmu
Concerning this, interesting is the similarity between Ninigi and Jacob, between Yamasachi-hiko and Joseph, and between Ugaya-hukiaezu and Ephraim as mentioned earlier (chapter 8). This is a remarkable similarity in mythology between the Imperial House of Japan and the royal line of the Ten Tribes of Israel.
It is also interesting to note that the formal name for the Japanese first Emperor Jinmu is called in Kojiki or in Nihon-shoki:
Kanji letters are adopted in Kojiki and Nihon-shoki to this, but this pronunciation had existed even before Kanji letters were imported from China. So the Kanji letters have no connection with the meaning.
This "kamu-yamato-...." has no satisfactory meaning if we interpret it as Japanese, but Joseph Eidelberg interpreted it as Hebrew. If we think of slight corruption and interpret it as Hebrew, it would be:
"The founder of the Hebrew nation of Yahweh, the noble (first born) of Samaria his kingdom."
This is not necessarily to mean that Jinmu himself was really the founder of the Hebrew nation, but rather, it may mean that the memory of the royal line of the Hebrew nation coming to Japan was included in the legend of the Japanese first Emperor Jinmu. Did the royal line of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel came to Japan? It is a grand mystery.
The Imperial Library Burnt Down
In Japan in 645 C.E., there was a very regrettable thing that the Imperial library, which had kept very important old documents and books, was all burnt down.
There was a fight between the pro-Shinto and the pro-Buddhism and as the result, the pro-Buddhism, Soga clan, set fire to the library, and all the important records and books in it were burnt down.
The oldest book existing now among all the Japanese books is Kojiki, but even this Kojiki was written in 712 C.E. which was 67 years after the burnt down of the Imperial library. That is, before Kojiki there had existed many ancient books, records, and documents in Japan. In that library there was a mountain of books older than Kojiki. Someone guesses that there was also the Torah Scroll there. We cannot deny the possibility if we think, as we saw above, it seems that the laws of the Renewal of Taika had a help from the knowledge of the teachings of the Torah.
If the ancient Japanese had the Torah, it must have been no doubt kept in the Imperial library, which was unfortunately burnt down. There must have been many other important materials concerning the origin of the Japanese in the library. The genealogy from their anscestors might also be there. When the library was burnt down, the Japanese lost their past.
In the 7th century B.C.E. in the southern kingdom of Judah, a Torah Scroll was accidentally found in the temple when an officer was searching gold in the temple (Divrei Hayamim II 34:15). King Josiah at that time let a priest read the Torah, when the king wailed and tore his clothes, for he clearly understood that the people in the country were not obeying the teachings of G-d.
We can know from this that the ancient people did not read the Torah usually; the Torah Scroll was often kept in an important place and no one looked at it. If the Torah Scroll was in Japan, I wish it were found before it was burnt.
But even if the Japanese lost their past, we do not need to say that now there is no way to know the past or origin of the Japanese. I hear that the insides of many of the tombs of the Japanese emperors are not yet researched or exhibited. When they are researched, I believe we can know more about the roots of the Japanese. The insides of tombs of Egyptian kings are well researched and exhibited. If the tombs of the Japanese emperors are researched scholarly, it may be possible that the Japanese take their past back.
Even the day may come when a definite evidence would be found in a tomb. Someone guesses the Israeli Menorah would be found. Other person guesses the emblems of the Lost Tribes of Israel would be found. Would such a day come?
The Symbol Similar to the Star of David Is Used At Ise-jingu, the Shinto Shrine for the Imperial House of Japan.
Ise-jingu in Mie-pref., Japan, is the Shinto shrine built for the Imperial House of Japan. On both sides of the approaches to the shrine, there are street lamps made of stone. On each of the lamps near the top, the mark same as the Jewish Star of David is carved.
The crest used on the inside shrine (Izawa-no-miya) at Ise-jingu is also the same design as the Star of David. This has existed since very old days. In Kyoto pref., there is a shrine called "Manai-jinja" which was the original Ise-jingu shrine. The crest of "Manai-jinja" is also the same design as the Star of David.
The Star of David became the formal symbol for Jews in the 17th century. However, the Jews has often used the design on their monuments since old days. The design is present in the synagogue in Capernaum, Israel, which dates from the second century C.E.. I hear that the design was already used for Jewish tombs in the third century C.E.. Professor Gershom Scholem in his book on Kabbalah (Jerusalem 1974, p.362) states that a Star of David is on a seal from the 7th century B.C.E., found in Sidon and belonging to the Jew Joshua ben Asayahu, whose Jewishness is certain because of his name.
However, this design has also been used among other nations. American sheriff has a badge in the same shape of the Star of David, but it does not mean that he is a Jew. This design has been used among various nations due to its geometrical beauty.
Did the Japanese design which resembles the Jewish Star of David come from Jewish origin or just a coincidence? To know this, we need more investigation.
Finally, I introduce the rumor that G-d's name is written in Hebrew on the holy mirror which is kept at the Japanese Shinto shrine "Ise-jingu" since ancient times.
Concerning the Rumor That G-d's Name Is Written in Hebrew on the Holy Mirror of "Ise-jingu"
In the Imperial House of Japan, there are three valuable treasures which were derived from ancient Japanese myths. These three are a sword, a jewel pendant and a mirror.
The mirror, called "Yata-no-kagami" (mirror of Yata) is placed in "Ise-jingu" shrine. It has been rumored that G-d's name is written in Hebrew on the back of this holy mirror. This mirror is regarded to be extremely holy, and usually no one is permitted to see it. However, there are some individuals who insist that they have seen it.
About a hundred years ago, Arinori Mori (1847-1889), the Minister of Education, Culture, and Science of Japan at that time, insisted that he saw the back of the holy mirror. He said that on it written in Hebrew was G-d's name, "I AM THAT I AM," which is the name used when G-d spoke to Moses (Shmos 3:14).
After World War II, Dr. Sakon, a professor from Aoyama-gakuin University, stated that he had seen a replica of the mirror which was placed in the Imperial Palace. He said that on it written in Hebrew was G-d's name, "I AM THAT I AM".
Later, it has been stated that Yutaro Yano, a passionate Shinto believer, saw the holy mirror, and transcribed the patterns on its back. Yano repeatedly asked a priest at Ise-jingu if he could observe the mirror. Moved by Yano's passion, the priest secretly permitted him to observe the mirror. Yano carefully copied the pattern off the mirror's back.
This copy has been maintained for years in a Shinto group named "Shinsei-Ryujinkai," which is run by Yano's daughter. The copy had been held in secret by the group. Later, they stated that it was "G-d's revelation" to show the copy to His Highness Mikasanomiya, a younger brother of the Emperor Hirohito (Showa Tennoh).
Mr. Wadoh Kohsaka, who is a Shinto researcher, had a role in handing it to Mikasanomiya. After that, Kohsaka decided to show the copy to the public in his book, for he believed that it was important for the Japanese to know the truth. The book was published several years ago.
The pattern which is believed to have been taken from the back of the Japanese Holy mirror by Yutaro Yano
There are two theories on how to interpret the letters on the mirror. One is to interpret the letters as "Hifu-moji" which is believed to be one of "Jindai-mojis", the supposed Japanese letters existed in ancient Japan that existed before Kanji-writing had been imported from China to Japan. Another theory is to interpret them as ancient Hebrew.
The theory of "Hifu-moji" is from Yano himself, but there are contradictions in his interpretation. In addition, no one knows what Hifu-moji really looks like. Hence, I cannot accept them as Hifu-moji. All the known Japanese ancient "Jindai-mojis" are written vertically. I have never seen it written horizontally.
Some people suggest that the 7 letters inside the central circle of the mirror could be read as "I AM THAT I AM," which in Hebrew "eheyeh asher eheyeh," reading "eheyeh" two times. Others suggest that they could be read as "Yahweh's light," which in Hebrew "or Yahweh" ("Or" means light).
However, some letters resemble Hebrew though, some do not. We also have to consider that Aramaic letters which the ancient Israelites used were a bit different from Hebrew. Samaritan letters are also different. If anyone reading this can interpret this, please let me know. We also do not have definite evidence that Yano's copy of the back of the Holy mirror is true to the original. This still remains as a mystery. I wish that someday the mirror or even its photo may be made available to the public.
Old Japanese Words Have Hebrew Origin.
Joseph Eidelberg, a Jew who once came to Japan and remained for years at a Japanese Shinto shrine, wrote a book entitled "The Japanese and the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel." He wrote that many Japanese words originated from ancient Hebrew.
For instance, we Japanese say "hazukashime" to mean disgrace or humiliation. In Hebrew, it is "hadak hashem" (tread down the name; see Iyov 40:12). The pronunciation and the meaning of both of them are almost the same.
We say "anta" to mean "you," which is the same in Hebrew. Kings in ancient Japan were called with the word "mikoto," which could be derived from a Hebrew word "malhuto" which means "his kingdom." The Emperor of Japan is called "mikado." This resembles the Hebrew word, "migadol," which means "the noble." The ancient Japanese word for an area leader is "agata-nushi;" "agata" is "area" and "nushi" is "leader." In Hebrew, they are called "aguda"and "nasi."
When we Japanese count, "One, two, three... ten," we sometimes say:
"Hi, fu, mi, yo, itsu, mu, nana, ya, kokono, towo."
This is a traditional expression, but its meaning is unknown it is thought of as being Japanese.
It has been said that this expression originates from an ancient Japanese Shinto myth. In the myth, the female god, called "Amaterasu," who manages the world's sunlight, once hid herself in a heavenly cave, and the world became dark. Then, according to the oldest book of Japanese history, the priest called "Koyane" prayed with words before the cave and in front of the other gods to have "Amaterasu" come out. Although the words said in the prayer are not written, a legend says that these words were, "Hi, fu, mi...."
"Amaterasu" is hiding in a heavenly cave; "Koyane" is praying and "Uzume" is dancing.
Joseph Eidelberg stated that this is a beautiful Hebrew expression, if it is supposed that there were some pronunciation changes throughout history. These words are spelled: "Hifa mi yotsia ma na'ne ykakhena tavo."
This means: "The beautiful (Goddess). Who will bring her out? What should we call out (in chorus) to entice her to come?" This surprisingly fits the situation of the myth.
Moreover, we Japanese not only say, "Hi, hu, mi...," but also say with the same meaning:
"Hitotsu, futatsu, mittsu, yottsu, itsutsu, muttsu, nanatsu, yattsu, kokonotsu, towo."
Here, "totsu" or "tsu" is put to each of "Hi, hu, mi..." as the last part of the words. But the last "towo" (which means ten) remains the same. "Totsu" could be the Hebrew word "tetse," which means, "She comes out. " And "tsu" may be the Hebrew word "tse" which means "Come out."
Eidelberg believed that these words were said by the gods who surrounded the priest, "Koyane." That is, when "Koyane" first says, "Hi," the surrounding gods add, "totsu" (She comes out) in reply, and secondly, when "Koyane" says, "Fu," the gods add "totsu" (tatsu), and so on. In this way, it became "Hitotsu, futatsu, mittsu...."
However, the last word, "towo," the priest, "Koyane," and the surrounding gods said together. If this is the Hebrew word "tavo," it means, "(She) shall come." When they say this, the female god, "Amaterasu," came out.
"Hi, fu, mi..." and "Hitotsu, futatsu, mittsu..." later were used as the words to count numbers.
In addition, the name of the priest, "Koyane," sounds close to a Hebrew word, "kohen," which means, "a priest." Eidelberg showed many other examples of Japanese words (several thousand) which appeared to have a Hebrew origin. This does not appear to be accidental.
In ancient Japanese folk songs, many words appear that are not understandable as Japanese. Dr. Eiji Kawamorita considered that many of them are Hebrew. A Japanese folk song in Kumamoto prefecture is sung, "Hallelujah, haliya, haliya, tohse, Yah-weh, Yah-weh, yoitonnah...." This also sounds as if it is Hebrew.